Germany is considered the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation—although Christianity is the most practiced religion, most German Christians are not Catholic. There is also a growing Muslim population, stemming both from the Turkish population in Germany and immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. Germany is also careful to acknowledge its responsibility to the Jewish community following World War II, and Germany now has one of the largest Jewish populations in Western Europe. About 30% of Germans profess no religious faith at all. Students who practice Christianity, Islam and Judaism should be able to find places of worship in Germany’s larger cities, as well as halal and kosher meal options.
Though Germany does not have a public ban on the burqa, niqab or other religiously symbolic clothing, students who wear these items may face additional scrutiny and bias in Germany. If you practice Islam, you should also be aware of the growing Islamophobia due to immigration of refugees fleeing armed conflict in the Middle East. In 2017, Germany began collecting statistics on anti-Muslim crimes, and while physical violence is rare, other forms of discrimination are more common. In addition, there is growing anti-Semitism in parts of the country as populist movements gain traction. Both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism tends to be more prevalent in the east of Germany, but we encourage you to do additional research related to your identities prior to your travels. While many students who practice these religions visit Germany with minimal challenges, it is important to be aware of potential issues that you may face.
Students who practice Islam should be aware of the heightening Islamophobia in the region due to negative perceptions toward immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. As a result, some may experience stares, xenophobic remarks and possible harassment. Students who practice Judaism should also be aware of increasing anti-Semitism. In the event that you are in a situation where you feel your safety is at risk, leave the scene, if possible. Reach out to your trusted points of contact, respective embassy or local emergency personnel to notify them of the situation and your location. This may include your program leaders, professors and friends. You can refer to the Health & Safety portion of the guide for local emergency numbers.
Islamophobia and xenophobia on the rise in Germany, new study claims - also addresses anti-Semitism