Many thanks to Ava Lon for translating this article from Berliner Zeitung:
Religious bullying: Second-grader threatened with death by classmates
by Martin Klesmann
March 24, 2018
[Photo caption (not shown): So far people have been talking: The boy who threatened the girl continues to attend the Paul Simmel Elementary School in Tempelhof]
At many inner-city schools, conflicts among students are now religiously motivated. Classmates are being pressured if they don’t observe the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Anti-Semitic remarks are also part of everyday school life for many teachers. “There are already many examples of religious bullying in schools today,” a Neukölln headmistress said recently. Now yet another incident concerning anti-Semitic tendencies is being talked about. This time it’s about disturbing incidents at Paul Simmel Elementary School in the eastern Tempelhof. It’s about death threats among children.
The daughter of a 41-year-old man, who wants to remain anonymous, is a student in that school. “Our daughter was mobbed by Muslim students because she doesn’t believe in Allah,” says the man in conversation with the Berliner Zeitung.
For about three years now there have been religiously-motivated incidents at school, he explains. The most recent one was at the end of February. The delicate daughter had been asked by a classmate if she was Jewish, the father reports. Since one parent is of Jewish origin, she said yes, to which the student threateningly repeated the word “Jew” several times.
In an earlier incident — when the classmates didn’t yet know about the Jewish parent — his daughter had even been threatened with death. The physically superior student had said to the then-second-grader that she should be beaten and then killed because she doesn’t believe in Allah. “We, the parents, were scolded by the classmate as stupid, because we don’t raise our daughter to believe in Allah,” says the father. Earlier, about three years ago, according to her father, something similar had happened to the girl. Anyone who doesn’t believe in Allah will be burned, as a classmate allegedly explained to the girl.
Themed in the classroom
The father is angry that the headmaster obviously doesn’t use these failures as an opportunity to address them publicly in circulars. He wishes that terms such as “tolerance” and “freedom of religion” would be a permanent part of the teaching in the classroom. “There was a confrontation between the students each time,” says the father. The incident was discussed in the presence of the headmaster and social worker. “For my daughter, this confrontation was traumatic,” says the father.
The longtime headmaster Thomas Albrecht confirms that he is aware of the incidents and that he is taking them seriously. “Basically, the students are heard while in disputes, and then appropriate steps are being taken.” So it allegedly happened in the three cases. The parents were invited. “There was a tolerance project in the class,” he says. In all incidents they have coordinated a further course of action with the school inspectorate and police.
The educational administration has also been aware of it for a long time. Over the next few days there will be a meeting with parents, principals and school inspectors. “We take this very seriously,” says Beate Stoffers, a spokeswoman for Senator Scheeres. So far people have been talking, and the boy is still attending the school.
In a letter to the father, the headmaster states: “I had already considered the incident with the anti-Semitic insults from a year ago as closed.” Everything was allegedly discussed at official meetings and during class leader hours. The father, on the other hand, disagrees. “The Senate would have to offer the schools a tool to not only tackle such individual violations of the rules, but especially such topics as tolerance, freedom of religion, Western values and the peaceful coexistence should be continuously conveyed to the children.” And it would have worked much better if the parents had become more involved.
The father says that in WhatsApp groups of elementary students there was also an ISIS decapitation video circulating. The headmaster confirms that. Therefore, a complaint had been filed with the police, and in this case there had also been a parental letter.
The headmaster completely acknowledges the problems. “More than 70 percent of the students are non-German; many did not attend kindergarten before primary school and come together with children from other cultures for the first time ever,” he says. Small conflicts can’t be avoided during the phase of cultural overload. “We proactively counteract this, and right at the beginning address the differences and similarities of the children,” he says.
The father says he himself came to Germany as a refugee more than 26 years ago. It had been clear to him from the outset that he had to learn the German language, that he had to live up to Western values such as tolerance and adapt to his environment. He has experienced locally in the school, but also in the residential area, that a not insignificant number of Muslim fellow citizens were increasingly cutting themselves from the outside world.
The father says: “Here is the policy required. The misunderstood tolerance simply makes the unwillingness to adapt to the environment and its subsequent radicalization possible.” There seem to be no solutions for a real integration. And he has already drawn first consequences. From the fifth grade the daughter should change the schools. This is how segregation continues, here and at other schools in Berlin.