Drinking alcohol is obsolete in Algeria
"Feet on the coffee table, beer in hand - I get in a bad mood"
Markus is a Muslim and a Swabian. And sometimes I have the feeling that his Swabian side is still more pronounced than the Muslim. In Islam, the most important day of the week is Friday. It's similar to Sunday in Christianity. There is no work on this day, you should pray, go to the mosque, reflect ... What, according to Islam, you shouldn't do anyway, and not at all on a Friday: drink beer.
I just honor Friday in my own way. For me, Friday is also the most important day of the week, namely the one on which I finally have the weekend. And when I come home from work, the after-work beer is part of it.
He's used to it, his father pops up a beer on Fridays. On the one hand I can understand that, on the other hand it bothers me. Markus is now a Muslim - he should at least stick to our rules a little! And maybe wait until Saturday with the alcohol. In general, I have nothing against alcohol and I like to drink myself, but it would be nice if Markus would respect Friday, which is so holy in Islam, a little more. When I see him coming home, taking off his shoes, feet on the coffee table and a beer bottle in hand, I get in a bad mood. And then I throw everything at him that bothers me. For example, that he never goes to the mosque on Fridays, he doesn't want that because he doesn't think he's religious enough.
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I just feel like a charlatan, I have the feeling that among the devout people I have no right to be there, to pray with them.
It is often difficult for us to argue constructively with one another because we do it very differently. It annoys me incredibly that Markus always gives in so quickly in discussions.
It annoys me that Selma can never admit that she is wrong. An Arab colleague once explained that to me: He says that in this culture an admission of guilt means a great loss of face. That's why you would never say: "That was my fault."
I already apologize - if it was really my fault! But that doesn't happen that often.
It sounds clichéd, but Selma has a lot more temperament than me. And for us Germans, the word "temperament" always has such a positive, exciting and attractive connotation. It can also be very exhausting.
I find this exaggerated restraint and politeness in Germany totally hypocritical. The Germans remain polite, even if they don't mean it. That's not how I was brought up. In Algeria one rarely says "please". You don't ask for something, you say or you ask. If I want the bread at dinner, I say to Markus: "Give me the bread." I find that completely normal. Markus then feels ordered around. He could choose the same tone for me: "Give me that, do that, I want that." A little more command tone wouldn't bother me at all.
But that bothers me! Selma speaks almost perfect German. Only the subjunctive, she never learned that.
I say: "You have to ..." But that is not meant badly at all. I would say that in French too.
With other people, she knows very well how to be polite. She would never say to guests: "Put your things away!" And she is always very friendly and courteous to her parents. That is also part of the culture, you show yourself respectful and deferential towards older people. Whoever gets it then instead, that's Selma's brother and me.
I don't think Markus and I would fight less if we came from the same culture. But I think we would argue differently - and about other things. For example, we discuss whether it is okay for cousins to marry. This happens very often in Algeria. And in Germany it is absolutely legal.
Maybe that's because of the area I grew up in. In the past, this was also the order of the day in rural areas. But I have often heard rumors from our neighboring village that a child was born with a disability because the parents are said to have been related to each other. I think there are reasons why this is not so socially recognized in Germany.
Another issue that we initially disagreed on is homosexuality. Of course, many homosexuals have come out in Algeria too, singers and actors for example. It's somehow accepted with them today, according to the motto: Artists are just a bit eccentric. But people in Algeria are brought up with the view that this is not what God intended.
If one of my sons is gay, it would probably be more difficult for me to accept than for Markus. Simply because I know how difficult it is for homosexuals in Algeria. Even a man and a woman are not allowed to show themselves there in public, holding hands. If people of the same sex did this, people would go nuts. And in Germany two men just kiss in the middle of the street, honestly, I'm still not quite used to that. In Algeria I have both a girlfriend who is lesbian and a boyfriend who is gay. But we don't talk about it very much, I just think to myself: "It's just the way it is, and you can't help it."
Selma would never openly disapprove of homosexuals, but of course I know how strange she is at times. For me, homosexuality has always been completely normal. At the beginning of our relationship, I couldn't understand Selma's attitude at all and we often argued about it. Today it is clear that we simply have our respective points of view, which are culturally justified and deeply rooted in our upbringing.
Because of what I experience here in everyday life, my values are also gradually changing. Being gay, being lesbian, that is still frowned upon in the broader Algerian population, that's what I grew up with. Here in liberal Germany I got to know homosexuals as completely normal people and of course that does something to me. Sexual orientation is not a big topic here and so it is easier for me not to think about it as such a big topic. When I recently met a friend's brother, he and his husband were introduced to me with the words, "This is my brother-in-law - and this is my brother-in-law." At first I was confused and didn't know how to react. But then it was kind of normal ... and nice!
Only - what I don't understand in Germany: Everything is accepted and tolerated here, regardless of whether someone is homosexual, whether someone is naked, whether someone wears piercings or tattoos, which is also forbidden in Islam. No problem, everything is normal for the Germans. But if a woman wears a headscarf, then she is immediately regarded as an oppressed pious person who has no opinion of her own - and is immediately put in a drawer. How does that fit together with the alleged tolerance? I think Markus and I are just one step further. We both had to learn a lot of tolerance, the closer our relationship became, the more we both had to get involved in foreign worlds, foreign values.
Before I met Markus, I had absolutely no idea of Germany. Today I am happy that I have a German husband. We opened up new horizons for each other and learned a lot from each other. And I like that Markus is typically German in many ways: punctual, polite, hard-working. He also takes care of our children a lot, Algerian men rarely do that. For example, my brother-in-law has never changed his daughter.
And yet: When Markus discovered how Algerian women really are, he was quite surprised.
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