What does it mean to be the "Good Muslim"? Ethnographic insights on the everyday life of Bosnian Muslims in Berlin
Merima Šehagić (Freie Universität Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
The mainstream perception of Bosniak refugees as white Europeans and their self-perception as "whites in a white country" has resulted in the under emphasis of their simultaneous position as Muslims in a "white country". This paper places the Bosniak case within the framework of Islam in Europe.
Paper long abstract:
From 1992 onwards, the German government admitted more than 320,000 refugees primarily from Bosnia, where Berlin alone took up to 30,000 refugees. This was under the significant condition that these displaced people were not given a conventional refugee status, but a so-called Duldung status, emphasizing the temporal aspect of this protection. Up to 250,000 of these refugees returned to Bosnia between 1992 and 2005, either on a voluntary basis, or as a result of the repatriation plan, which was mostly the case. Governmental publications specifically related to the integration of Bosniaks into German society indicate that Muslims from Bosnia are classified as European and "unproblematic", because of their seeming ability to integrate. One could also reverse this reasoning, because studies have implied that the integration of Bosniaks into western countries has been eased, mainly because of their pre-existing European background and appearance, or invisibility. For example, when compared with most non-European migrant groups, Bosnian migrants often experienced less discrimination and stigmatization. They were even considered to be a "white refugee elite" in certain settings. As Valenta and Ramet (2011) rightly point out, in no way do these perceived advantages imply that a European background gives Bosnians a migratory experience free of stigmatization and discrimination. Therefore, a thorough exploration of the larger framework on how the "good migrant", or the "good Muslim" is conceptualized, is needed in order to understand the affects these processes have on the everyday of Bosniaks in Berlin.
From good immigrants to good citizens: mapping the space of conditional inclusion