It's a crazy world – I'm keeping my distance

By Mely Kiyak

We should distance ourselves from atrocities. Of late, I've been reading this more and more frequently. We open up the newspaper and another journalist tells us that we should have nothing to do with certain groups. For example, we have to distance ourselves from beheadings, the current modus operandi of Islamic State terrorists. The atrocities that we have to distance ourselves from are generally committed by Muslims. Muslims also have to distance themselves. Although Islamists belong to the Islamist group and Muslims belong to the Muslim group, Islamists are never called on to distance themselves from Islamist acts of violence. But there are Islamists who reject violence. They are Islamists who want a state's laws and regulations to be built on Islamism. There are in fact a great many of them, and they can be found in many different countries. Indeed, the German government has diplomatic relations with some of these Islamists. As long as they are not beheading people and have the money to buy our goods and weapons... Anyway, I will never understand why Muslims have to distance themselves from Islamists. Because Muslims are people of faith, while Islamists are political terrorists – criminals. The ideology behind criminal acts always comes from a constructed view of the world. A construction is the essence of criminality; it provides moral justification for one's actions and prevents the emergence of questions of guilt.

Is it conceivable that all men should distance themselves from actions such as those committed by Islamic State? Beheadings are always carried out by men. Terrorism is almost exclusively carried out by men. Calling for them to distance themselves is of course a new form of racism. Because now upstanding citizens are only upstanding citizens if they keep on distancing themselves. Otherwise we have to assume that they are secretly in favour of cruelty and crimes against humanity. Behind every doorbell bearing the name Yilmaz or Yildirim there reside citizens who have not loudly distanced themselves. Except for recently, when devout Muslims began praying on the streets of Berlin. As a sign of their distance from the acts of cruelty committed by Islamic State, and at the same time as a plea for solidarity, in the event that they too are afflicted by atrocities.

When did this happen? When did our fellow citizens and neighbours become suspects? Why did they receive a visit from government officials for being so well-behaved as to distance themselves (and throw themselves into the dust in front of everyone, sorry, creep out of their 'dark backyards' to pray 'against terror and racism' on the streets). It’s a crazy world!

Yes, distancing is a complicated matter. But it's also a fad. I'm sure it won't last much longer, and I am also called upon to distance myself, despite the fact that I am an upstanding, wellbehaved columnist who is loyal to my country. I hereby distance myself as a preventive measure against future atrocious columns. Should my colleague Harald Martenstein every write something that is not in accordance with the basic freedoms of our country, I clearly distance myself from him and as a sign of my distancing I will write my Friday column on the street instead of in my room looking out over my back yard. Perhaps then I'll get a visit from our new Minister for Culture, Tim Renner, or from Professor Monika Grütters, Minister  for Culture and Media, and have our photo taken on a German day of action called "Columns Against Terror and Racism", which I hereby call for.

I think all meat eaters should distance themselves from the atrocities committed by the meat industry. Because all violence against animals is committed in the name of nonvegetarians. Animals are kept in terrible conditions and barbarically slaughtered just so that people can eat cheap meat. And while we're on the subject of animal protection, of course I totally distance myself from the abhorrent plays that are staged in our theatre. An example of these was the new sex play that was recently staged. The actor Thomas Wodianka, who I was secretly in love with (I say 'was' because, according to this view, it is no longer possible to have a girly crush), wore a black, see-through mesh garment. On his head he wore a blow-up animal head. An elephant? A rhino? I couldn't tell from where I was sitting. The trunk rose up into the air like the minaret of the Sultan Ahmed mosque. I'm saying nothing about the other trunk. In short – I am distancing myself from it. Because no elephant in this world deserves to be caricatured, abused and stigmatized in a sex play at our theatre.

Europe: Closed Doors or Open Arms? Culture and Migration / EUNIC, ... (Hg.). – Göttingen: Steidl , 2015. – 300 pp. – (Kulturreport, EUNIC-Jahrbuch)

Europe: Closed Doors or Open Arms? Culture and Migration / EUNIC, ... (Hg.). – Göttingen: Steidl , 2015. – 300 pp. – (Kulturreport, EUNIC-Jahrbuch)
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Mely Kiyak is a journalist and political columnist. Her column 'Kiyaks Deutschstunde' appears regularly in Zeit Online and she writes 'Kiyaks Theater Kolumne' for the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin. A winner of the Theodor-Wolff Prize, she has published a number of factual books on subjects as diverse as travel, gardening and death. She also writes for the theatre and appears on stage. With colleagues, she is the founder of Hate Poetry, an anti-racist show involving readings. She was named Germany’s Journalist of the Year 2014.