The Limits of Culture: Kidnapping, Integration, and Freedom

A reader posted this link in the comments section to an article about the kidnapping of a young 19 y/o German boy. It got me thinking.

The boy had been dating a young 20 y/o girl, who’s family happened to have immigrated from Turkey. When her father found out, he, her mother, and her brother all conspired to kidnap the boy!

He was a German who had been dating Fatma, the family’s youngest daughter, for two years. The couple had been living together for the past few weeks. Sascha felt the men’s hands on his back and saw the car, with the mother sitting in the back seat.

“I’m not getting in that car,” Sascha said.

Despite his protests, the men dragged him into the car and the father slapped him across the face twice. He then looked at the boy.

“Where is she?” he screamed.

Sascha knew that Fatma was at home in his apartment. She was cleaning the kitchen and getting ready for an appointment with a gynecologist. She was thinking about Sascha, and about the possibility that she could be pregnant.

Fatma knew that her parents had been trying to talk to her for some time, and that they had even threatened her. They wanted her to come home, but Fatma was no longer interested in going home.

“Where?” the father screamed again.

Sascha was silent. He was thinking of Fatma.

“Son of a bitch!” the father screamed at Sascha.

They wanted his mobile phone. Sascha, who was in tears by this point, kept insisting that he didn’t have a mobile phone, until they pulled it from his pocket. They wanted to call Fatma, hoping that she would answer the call if she recognized Sascha’s number on her screen.

They drove to a nearby athletic field in the Moosach neighborhood and parked the car. The brother turned off the engine, switched off the light and dialed Fatma’s number.

But, as coincidence would have it, Fatma didn’t answer. The men became furious. The mother sat in the back seat, saying nothing.

“I’d really like to kill you! The police won’t find anything, I’m wearing gloves,” the brother screamed.

“Give me back my daughter or I’ll kill you!” the father screamed.

Frightening. Luckily, the boy was able to escape.

But, what is more frightening is knowing that the Father had lived in Germany for 35 years prior to the kidnapping. He was, seemingly, a full fledged member of the German Social fabric.

The family’s honor and reputation were at stake. People in the Turkish community had already started talking about Muharrem. Turan says that in many Turkish families things can only go well as long as German values and Turkish values don’t collide. It’s a common problem in the community, she says.

According to Turan, her father only realized that he had done something wrong when he was sitting in the courtroom, listening to what people had to say, when the prosecutor argued that he should be sentenced to seven years in prison without the possibility of parole, and when the judge rendered his verdict.

“In the criminal matter against Muharrem E., case number 114 Js 12862/06, the defendant is guilty of extortion and kidnapping, coinciding with aggravated assault,” the May 24 conviction read. “The court imposes a prison sentence of three years and nine months, without parole.” In explaining his decision, the judge said that the case bordered on the next step, an honor killing. The sentence, he said, was meant to send a message.

Clearly, his being an immigrant isn’t the point. The point is that he had a particular cultural viewpoint that precluded his ability to accept his daughters relationship with someone “different” than himself and his family. He didn’t respect that his daughter, an adult, disagreed with him. Her view and his view collided.

His expression is simply an extreme extension of a failing we all share. We all have groups with whom we share an affinaty, and know of other groups we think are nuts.

I certainly do. I feel connected to other Mathematics students. I feel connected to other coaches. I relate to writers, and people who frequent small coffee shops. I tend to think (by knee jerk) that a Democrat will be someone I’ll like, and not so much a Republican. But, that said, I think the neo-hippie/anarchist population (oxymoron?) I live around is nuts in terms of their conspiracy-ladden view of the world. I find my self feeling very comfortable and at home in a group of Asian people, and freaked out when a group of young white men are walking towards me. I like city people. Small town people I don’t inherently trust (try being a dude who wears pink, eye liner, and womens’ pants in a small town … )

Much of my views are ridiculous, and borderline bigoted. Some of them have merit.

What then is the difference between me and the guy who wouldn’t stand for his daughter dating a German guy?

The answer is obvious: Violence.

That’s the difference. I am a HUGE believer in the joy of a good argument/debate. Disagreement is beautiful. All progress is predicated on it. But, the instant one becomes violent, all progress is not only halted, but reversed.

No real man gets violent when he’s angry. That is a sure sign of a lack of self control, a lack of strength.

Pluralism doesn’t mean we all agree. We may find each other completely unpalatable. But, we must allow one another to “be”. Humanism MUST supersede culture.


One response to “The Limits of Culture: Kidnapping, Integration, and Freedom

  1. Inflammatory language is a spark that ignites violence. It would be wonderful, in this pluralistic culture, if we could just be considerate as we debate. To call another person an idiot, bigot or (fill in the blank) accomplishes nothing but violence at worst and polarization at best. I love a good debate but when we become brutal with each other debate ends and hostility begins. I have lived long enough to learn that arrogance and an attitude of intellectual superiority is counterproductive to persuasion. But our humility (or growth in that grace) must be real! My life is a history lesson about assuming that one has all the answers. How wrong I have been so often! Now I assume that I have something to learn in every exchange. Too soon old and too late smart!

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