Muslim and German: Safyah's Story

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Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, a 28 years old German Muslim, feels constantly pressured to justify herself for being a Muslim in Germany. She believes that conditions for Muslims in Germany worsened in the wake of Paris attacks. The political movement PEGIDA, or Patriotic European Against the Islamization of the West, has also triggered divisions in German society. This story focuses on a slice of Safyah's life as a Muslim woman with both German and Muslim heritage and her experience in a country going through an identity crisis that has both united people and torn them apart.


  1. Close-up (0:00 - 0:30) Safyah is on the escalator that brings her to the platform of the train station. She introduces herself.
  2. Medium shot (0:30 - 0:33) Safyah waits for the train to go to Potsdam at Zoologischer Garten station in Berlin.
  3. Medium shot (0:33 - 0:37) The train arrives.
  4. Close-up (0:37- 1:01) Safyah enters the train. She walks through the carriage. She stops at an exit door.
  5. Close up (1:01 - 1:18) Safyah sits in the train. She introduces her family, pointing at photos in a book of photos.
  6. Medium shot (1:18 - 1:38) Safyah sits in her office at the University of Potsdam and explains her daily tasks.
  7. Wide shot (1:55 - 1:59) Safyah meets with a friend in Breslauer Platz in the Friedenau district of Berlin.
  8. Medium shot (2:07 - 2:58) Safyah sits in the living room of a friend’s flat in Friedenau, Berlin.
  9. Medium shot (2:25 - 2:41) Safyah’s friend sitting on the couch in the living room of her apartment in Friedenau, Berlin.
  10. Medium shot (2:41 - 2:46) Safyah and her friend talk in the kitchen.
  11. Close shot (2:46 - 3:11) Safyah sits in the living room.
  12. Close up (3:11 - 3:18) Safyah paints.
  13. Close up (3:18 - 3:31) Safyah explains what she has painted.
  14. Close up (3:31 - 4:02) Safyah explains what it means being a Muslim in Germany.
  15. Medium Shot (4:02 - 4:18) Safyah is in the living room of her father's apartment preparing for the dinner to celebrate the father's birthday.
  16. Medium shot (4:18 - 4:30) Safyah’s father reads the birthday card.
  17. Medium shot (4:30 - 4:36) Safyah’s father hugs and thanks Safyah for the birthday wishes.
  18. Medium shot (4:36 - 5:02) Safyah's father talks about the importance of religion in Germany.
  19. Close up (5:02 - 6:21) Safyah explains how German culture and Islam can coexist.


  1. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (0:00 to 0:30) My name is Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, I am 28 years old. My father comes from Sudan and my mother is German. I was born in Germany and here grown up. I work at Potsdam University as academic assistant and I have finished my study last year. I have studied economy, labour and technology, and maths to become a teacher. Now I will write a doctoral thesis. I am Muslim and I have had enough of justifying myself for it.
  2. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (0:37 - 1:01) I travel between two and four times per week to Potsdam and I need one hour to go and one hour to return from Potsdam. I hate when the train is full of students. But I really like my job, so it is ok.
  3. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (1:01 - 1:18) (points to photos) This is my husband and my husband’s sister at the wedding . This is my father, my brother, my husband and my mum.
  4. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (1:18: – 1:38) My task is to support my professor, my professor has different lectures and I for example organize students’ speeches and they send me their material, and we have an internet site where I upload all the material and the students can take something.
  5. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (1:41 - 2:25) I am really pleased that so far I did not have to experience German friends or people I know expressing their opinion in favor of PEGIDA or against the Islam. I know people that are against PEGIDA and they know people who support PEGIDA and that led to breakup of friendships, also for long time friendship. For example my brother’s wife, she is also German, had a good friend and colleague who supported PEGIDA and therefore she had to end the friendship.
  6. soundbite (German)
    Safyah's friend: (2:25 - 2:41) I have to say that for me it is the same if Safyah is Muslim or not or what she believes in because I hold dear Safyah as a person and I respect what she believes in.
  7. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (2:46 - 3:11) There are people who want to know about Islam and my life with Islam, and there are people who bring me to the point at which I have to justify myself. That means that they confront me with accusations, with things I have nothing to do and I have to give explanations.
  8. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (3:18: – 3:31) Here is God. in German we say God, in Arabic we say Allah.
  9. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (3:31 – 4:02) When I reflect on how it is today being a Muslim in Berlin or Germany I would say that it is even harder. Now with the attacks in Paris and the fact that they have been carried out supposedly in the name of Islam, it has become even harder because even more people have more prejudice against Islam and more negative news will be spread against Islam. It will be increasingly hard for us to live in peace here.
  10. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (4:02 – 4:18) My father has his birthday, but we actually do not celebrate birthdays. Islam does not celebrate a birthday, therefore we do not celebrate a birthday. But we stay together just to eat.
  11. soundbite (German)
    Safyah's father: (4:18 – 4:30) (reads aloud) My dearest father I wish you from my heart only the best for your birthday . May Allah protect you.
  12. soundbite (German)
    Safyah's father: (4:36 – 5:02) Germans know very little about Islam and generally about religion. German people aren’t that religious at all. Maybe in villages they go to church, and nonetheless they barely know about their own religion. If they knew about Islam (they would know that) there are so many German Muslims, not for example “integrated,” but genuine German Muslims.
  13. soundbite (German)
    Safyah Hassan-Yavuz, 28: (5:02 – 6:21) I believe that the German culture and the Islamic religion can coexist. I am a good example that it can work. I am myself a mix of both. I have a German mother and a Muslim-Sudanese father. I know that it can work, however I know also that it is difficult. It is not always easy to unite these two parts of me, and it is even more difficult when somebody is only German or a foreigner that believes in the Islamic religion. I think that a basic condition to make it work is willingness and tolerance on both sides. Muslim have to experience a readiness to integrate themselves and to adhere to basic democratic principles, but that means also that German society has to be ready to recognize Muslims or people who have other creeds as part of society and not always give them the feeling that they do not belong to it. It is not easy but it can work.