Youth working to break down stereotypes


Since 2003, the organization Kreuzberg Initiative Against Antisemitism has been working to dispel stereotypes and prejudices amongst Muslims against Jews. It is based in the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin which is mainly populated by Muslims—including immigrants of Kurdish, Turkish and Asiatic origin as well as Palestinians—and were there were many manifestations of Muslim anti-Semitism in the past.

The group involves youth who organize and participate in workshops throughout schools and youth centers where they use activities—such as role playing—to raise awareness and break down stereotypes.

Maja, a Muslim of Syrian descent who was born and raised in Berlin, joined the organization after experiencing intolerance within her own Muslim community. She says:

“In my view, there are two sets of problems. On the one hand, Muslims are confronted with prejudices, such as the idea that they are fundamentalists or traditionally backward.  On the other hand, Muslim groups, especially young people, are themselves prejudiced against other religions, such as Judaism, or against German culture.”

For Maja, young people have a crucial role to play in promoting tolerance.

“Young people can approach and convince their peers more easily than others. It is important to be aware of this responsibility, assume it and make things happen.

The leader of Germany’s opposition Green party, Cem Oezdemir, who has Turkish roots himself praises the organization and says:

“These young Muslims are often people who don’t know any Jews in person. Their radical views stem from an over-identification with the Middle East conflict, from parents who are willing to employ all the well-known Jew-related cliches, and from schools that don’t know how to tackle the problem in classes full of students with migrant backgrounds.”

Kreuzberg Initiative Against Antisemitism Website

© Marc Gopin