Event Highlights: The Influence of the Internet on Integration and Multiculturalism in Germany
On Tuesday, October 9, the Center for the Study of Europe, in cooperation with the Center for International Relations and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations at Boston University and the Goethe Institut Boston, hosted a presentation by prolific German blogger Kübra Gümüsay, an active member of the Muslim blogosphere and one of the few Muslim members of the German netpolitics community.
Gümüsay, who is of Turkish origin, studied politics at the University of Hamburg and at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. When she began working as a columnist for the German daily newspaper taz in 2010, she was known as the first Hijabi columnist in Germany. Her texts, which have been featured in major national and international newspapers and publications, are mostly about culture, art, feminism, racism, Islamophobia, social blogging and media. In 2010 she co-founded the network Zahnräder (“Gears”) for active, creative and intellectual Muslim entrepreneurs in Germany. In 2011, her blog ein-fremdwoerterbuch.com was nominated for the Grimme Online Award in 2011. Her aim is to build cultural bridges, break down stereotypes and to animate her readers to rethink their values and worldviews. She is currently based in Oxford, UK, where she is working on a book on integration and migration and is founding a global network for social and political bloggers around the world.
In her presentation at the Castle, Gümüsay talked about changes the Internet has brought to social life in Germany, with a focus on the struggles of the Muslim diaspora. Feeling misrepresented in mainstream media, minorities of comparatively weak lobbies, such as Turks, Arabs, Blacks, Muslims and Roma, she said, are increasingly using the Internet to create a space for alternative media. As they speak up, comment on politics, get involved in debates and push their agendas, they influence mainstream media. Gümüsay discussed this process as well as its outcome on the German Muslim identity and on society, in an attempt to provide some answers to these questions: Has the Internet brought us closer together? Or are we now – more than ever – living in parallel worlds?
This event was organized as part of Our Shared Future, a project developed by the British Council with the support of the Carnegie Corporation. It aims to improve the public conversation on Muslim-West relations in the US and Europe.