Culture War Over German Identity Religious Symbols Take Center Stage


The Bavarians want crosses in public buildings, German Jews want to be able to wear kippas in public without being attacked and Muslims would like more understanding for the headscarf. Germany’s search for identity has turned religious. By DER SPIEGEL Staff

Omri Gadol / DER SPIEGEL

Neighborhood. It’s a word that evokes homey comforts and familiarity. A confined area of bonhomie or, at least, a place free of open conflict.

Helmholtzplatz, a micro-neighborhood in Berlin, is one of the capital city’s best-known blocks. Locals like to call Helmholtzplatz, the square from which the area gets its name, Helmi and it is a hub of tolerance and the international lifestyle, evidenced by the fact that English competes with German as the most-spoken language in the area. Ever since the rat problem was eliminated a few years back, the neighborhood has become a place where citizens of the world live in total comfort and can only shake their heads at the conflicts that beset the rest of humanity.

At least until the warm, spring evening of Tuesday, April 17. On that evening, Adam Armoush, a 21-year-old Israeli from a family with Arabic, Jewish and Christian roots, dared to conduct an experiment. Originally from Haifa, he has been living in Germany for three years and moved to Berlin three months ago, where he studies veterinary medicine. He has Jewish friends and is actually not particularly immersed in the hostilities present in the Middle East. An acquaintance gave him a kippah as a gift, but also warned him that it is dangerous to wear it on the streets of Berlin. Adam didn’t want to believe him.

And so he set off toward Helmholtzplatz together with a friend, the kippah on his head. He had almost arrived when he encountered three Arab men who began insulting him. Armoush turned on the camera on his smartphone and the video that he took has now become a historical document of contemporary German history.


1 reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.