Monday, December 23, 2019

Those Young Chechens in Germany Caught Between Tradition and the West Most at Risk of Radicalization, Kremer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 21 – Marit Kremer, a sociologist who has studied the Chechen community in Germany for 15 years, says that its younger members, those born in Chechnya but are growing up in Germany, divide into three groups: the traditionalists who accept and follow the values of their parents, “the almost assimilated,” and those in between. 

            The last group, she argues, is at greatest risk of radicalization because they lack self-confidence and feel that Germany is “at one and the same time” their own country and an alien one.  They often conceal their mixed feelings and sense of crisis and turn to religion as “a strategy for overcoming these crises” (кавказ/20191213-социолог-марит-кремер).

            Chechen women are more likely to land in this risk group than men for at least two reasons, Kremer tells Anna Stroganova of Radio France International. On the one hand, young men have more freedom of action and can explore new opportunities without causing problems with their families.

            And on the other, some Chechen families in Germany “have sent their daughters to Chechnya because they are afraid that they will reorient themselves in too Western a fashion and will no longer observe the adats.” But when such girls return to Germany, they face even more problems in integrating into German society.

            The Chechen diaspora in Germany is quite heterogenous, she continues. Unfortunately, the media only focuses on those of its members who get into trouble and ignore the much larger number who work hard and seek to make good careers. Because Chechens don’t like to talk about themselves, the media often can’t learn more and form a more accurate picture.

            But the Chechens face a large number of real problems: the constant risk that they may be sent back to Poland or Chechnya against their will, frequent changes of address which makes going to school difficult, and open hostility and discrimination on the part of many Germans, Kremer says.

            She concludes that she was most surprised that not only are most Chechens not that religious but that they are willing to acknowledge that they aren’t and also that Chechens have such “a very strong will” to overcome problems, set themselves up in life and not surrender to difficulties.”

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