The Great Divide
The Wall may have come down in Germany, but tensions over the nation’s immigrant population have provoked another kind of rift that is evident in the schools.
Steps away from where a concrete wall once divided this city east from west, a group of Muslim 1st graders at E.O. Plauen Elementary School sing a phrase that’s unfamiliar to most German ears.
“ Alhamdulillah , Alhamdulillah ,” or “Praise to God,” the children intone in Arabic as a light snow falls outside this imposing century-old building in Kreuzberg, a section of Berlin nicknamed Little Istanbul for its high concentration of Turkish immigrants. The 16 pupils, led by teacher Yasar Özcelik, switch to German as the song proceeds.
“For the eyes, God be thanked,” they sing on this mid-March day. “For the...
This article is available to subscribers only.
To keep reading this article and more, subscribe now or start a 2-week FREE trial.