By Andrew Harrod:
“To mark No Go Areas, that is to say law-free areas with high danger potential, is nothing unusual,” Rüdiger Franz of Bonn, Germany’s General Anzeiger (GA) newspaper wrote, as travel guide entries for cities such as Detroit, Istanbul, Johannesburg, or Mogadishu show. Considerable controversy, however, ensued after a language school posted an Internet No Go Area map of Bonn and environs, drawing ongoing, often unwelcome attention to the problems Germany’s once serene former capital faces from newly arrived Muslim immigrants.
The No Go map at the website of the Steinke Institut (SI) language school’s Bonn branch first drew significant public interest at the conservative German website Politically Incorrect (PI) with a July 18, 2013, entry. Attention only grew in the following weeks with an “unexpectedly large echo” of about 50 Bonn residents contacting SI with approval, queries, and criticism, as an SI Internet statement at the beginning of September noted.
SI explained therein the school’s emphasis on teaching German as a foreign language to students “from the entire world.” The No Go map resulted “exclusively” from some 250 such students reporting in the last six years “extremely negative experiences” in various Bonn neighborhoods, with over 80% of the reports agreeing upon the map’s red-marked problem zones. SI elaborated that these “negative experiences” entailed harassment of women, theft, robbery, break-ins, assaults, and insults.
In contrast to the suspicions of “some concerned callers” at SI, these experiences had no “Neo-Nazi context.” Rather, “above all” East Asian and East European students “had made pertinent experiences with adolescents, who almost exclusively seem to have an immigration background.” A landlord from Bonn’s Bad Godesberg (BadGo) suburb confirmed in an October 23, 2013, GA article that many of her young renters suffered harassment from immigrants, particularly women, for “supposedly too short skirts and the wearing of shorts.” SI teaching personnel, many of whom “themselves live in these same city areas and are very often themselves connected with a partner with an immigrant background,” likewise agreed with the students, SI noted. On the other hand, the “overwhelming majority of the language students had a thoroughly positive impression of the German and/or as German perceived citizens of Bonn and confirm therefore the image of Bonn as a tolerant and cosmopolitan city.”
For each red zone on SI’s map, SI sought confirmation in the media and linked many of these articles to the statement. A subsequent PI entry criticized that SI “did not trust itself to name clearly what special kind of immigrants are responsible” for a “negative Germany image” among “peaceful and diligent foreign German learners.” Yet the linked “gruesome news reports” allowed an “unbiased observer” to surmise that the criticisms “all somehow had something to do with the I-word,” namely Islam.
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