Muslims angry at German soccer club over song
German Muslims have inundated one of the country’s top soccer teams, Schalke 04, with complaints about a verse in the club’s anthem which, they say, is disparaging towards the Prophet Mohammad.
The club has its home in Gelsenkirchen in Germany’s industrial heartland and immigrants make up about a third of the town’s population. Most of them have a Turkish background. Germany’s biggest mosque was opened in nearby Duisburg last year and many Schalke supporters are Muslims, as chat rooms like this one point out.
The lines in question are: “Mohammad was a Prophet who doesn’t understand football” although the words that follow seem positive: “But from all the beautiful colours he came up with blue and white.” Schalke’s colours are blue and white.
The club, which plays in Germany’s Bundesliga top league and has some of the country’s most ardent fans, is taking the complaints seriously. A spokesman has said Schalke has asked an Islamic expert to analyse the text.
But what is most striking is that the song is not new. Some say it dates back to 1924. So why has it suddenly started to offend Muslims?
The answer may lie in the mounting resentment in Germany’s Muslim community after politicians were slow to condemn the murder of an Egyptian woman in a court in eastern Germany about a month ago, which we blogged about at the time. The crime was widely viewed as racially motivated.
Germany’s Central Council of Muslims has summed up the situation. “Many Muslims in Germany no longer have a sense of security. Nerves are wearing thin,” General-Secretary Aiman Mazyek was quoted as saying in Bild daily, adding he did not believe the club had malicious intentions.
This storm is another sign of just how tense community relations are in Germany. Maybe a passion for soccer can help overcome some of the divisions.