How a German soap opera was used as far-right Islamophobic propaganda
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A month or so ago, a video on Raheem Kassam's Facebook page was brought to my attention. I've embedded the video below. In it, a young women speaking German converts to Islam in front of her son and insists to him, that as he is a child, he is also Muslim. Kassam's caption was "Oh. My. God. This is what German TV channels are "teaching" kids..." The subtitles are accurate, with the exception of the offensive "blah, blah, blah" translation while the woman recites the Shahada, the declaration of
Muslim faith. Many far-right groups claimed this video was created so the German government could convince the population to be more accepting of Muslims or even brainwash them into converting to Islam itself.
The comments on the Kassam video are all very negative towards the issue. Paraphrasing, most of them talk about how Germany is a doomed country and is destined to destroy itself. Comments on YouTube videos are much the same, about how the narrative is that Germans are nothing unless they adopt Islam and Merkel's government are pure evil. There's a load of Islamophobia too.
The names of the organisations credited at the end of the video seem far from impartial by names alone. In fact, they all contained content that many would consider Islamophobic.
However, when I watched this video, quite a lot of things did not support this hypothesis. There is quite eerie music for a start and the young boy looks rather confused and alarmed. Certainly, there's no reason to be alarmed by this video alone. After all, if this is an educational clip like some are suggesting, isn't it a good thing to learn about other religions?
Certainly, the clip seems incomplete and thus needs to be further investigated.
When I did it became quite clear that the clip was taken out of context. It is from Lindenstrasse, a long-running German soap opera on the German equivalent of BBC One, the episode, number 1084 was aired in 2006, not after 2017's federal elections like some had suggested.
The woman is Lisa Hoffmeister, a character who has led a troubled life. She was abused and neglected as a child and even killed someone in self-defence. She is engaged to Murat, from a Turkish immigrant family. Her fiance is not particularly serious about his religion and comes from a fairly secular and moderate family.
Yet Lisa gets obsessed and convinces herself that she needs to convert in order to be accepted by the family. Her overzealousness in this and future episodes actually annoys Murat a fair bit and his aunt takes Lisa aside and tells her efforts are unnecessary.
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