Muslims with headscarves wait 4.5 times longer for jobs in Germany

Report reveals 'glaring racism problem' after New Year's Eve violence sparks debate on integration

People wearing headscarves find it harder to get a job in Germany. Bloomberg
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Muslims in Germany are particularly vulnerable to discrimination based on their name and appearance, a racism survey has found.

A government report said women with headscarves struggled to get jobs and children with Turkish names were marked down at school.

Germany’s integration commissioner Reem Alabali-Radovan, who delivered the report to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet on Wednesday, said these were examples of structural racism.

She highlighted one study that found a headscarf and a Turkish name made it four-and-a-half times harder to get a job interview.

It comes amid an ugly row over violence on New Year’s Eve that sparked a fresh debate over integration in Germany.

Right-wing politicians caused uproar by demanding to know the first names of German citizens involved in the unrest, implying they might have a migrant background.

“We have to judge the New Year culprits on the basis of their actions and not on their first names,” Ms Alabali-Radovan said in Berlin.

“Racism is not an abstract danger, but a painful experience for many, many people in our country.”

Ms Alabali-Radovan, the child of Iraqi parents, said she often heard stories from migrant and religious communities about discrimination against Muslims.

Violence on New Year's Eve led to a fractious debate about immigration in Germany. Getty

About 5.5 million Muslims live in Germany, including many people of Turkish origin whose families migrated after the Second World War and Syrians who arrived during the 2015 refugee crisis.

While there have been some notable success stories, the 104-page racism report said Muslims suffered some of the most negative attitudes of any minority group.

Some surveys have found a quarter of Germans say there are too many Muslims in the country, while half say they feel like strangers in Germany because of the Islamic presence.

The report said cases of overt anti-Muslim violence had slightly declined but described an undercurrent of racial bias that limits people’s opportunities in work and education.

One study said female job applicants had to try four-and-a-half times as often to get an interview if they had a Turkish name and were wearing a headscarf in an attached photo.

It was eight times as difficult in higher-skilled jobs, compared to women with a more typical German name, Ms Alabali-Radovan said.

“It is structural racism when a woman with a headscarf, with the same qualifications as a woman with a typical German name without a headscarf, has to apply four-and-a-half times as often,” she said.

Another survey found that the same schoolwork was graded lower when it was apparently submitted by “Murat” rather than “Max”.

Germany's integration chief Reem Alabali-Radovan handed the report to Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Getty

“Studies show that people read as Muslims have a clearly heightened risk of discrimination,” the report says.

“The data available shows that Muslim men and women see themselves more affected than others by discrimination.”

A separate expert panel on Islamophobia is expected to report back in the summer.

Across all social groups, 22 per cent of people in Germany reported having suffered racial discrimination.

“The stark view of the data makes clear that we have a glaring racism problem in Germany,” said Aziz Bozkurt, the head of a working group on migration in Mr Scholz’s Social Democratic Party.

“The current discussions over events at New Year make this depressingly clear, not least when even parties in the supposed centre ground want to reduce people’s Germanness based on how their first name sounds.”

The Berlin branch of the Christian Democrats, the main centre-right opposition in Germany, asked for first names after firework displays ran out of control in some cities.

It accused Mr Scholz’s party of deliberately turning a blind eye to what were “mainly young men with a migrant background” causing trouble on New Year’s Eve, according to Berlin CDU chief Kai Wegner.

Updated: January 11, 2023, 2:26 PM
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