Necla Kelek (pronounced [ˈnedʒɫa ˈkelek]; born December 31, 1957) is a Turkish-born German feminist and social scientist, holding a doctorate in this field, originally from Turkey. She gave lectures on migration sociology at the Evangelische Fachhochschule für Sozialpädagogik (Protestant Institute for Social Education) in Hamburg from 1999 until 2004.

Kelek in 2010


The following section regards[clarification needed] Kelek's autobiography, which is part of her book, Die fremde Braut (The Foreign Bride).

Necla Kelek was born in Istanbul, and came with her parents to Germany at the age of 11 in 1968. After her parents had maintained a western, secular lifestyle in Istanbul, they turned toward religion in Germany. Once, when Kelek dared to contradict her father, he threatened to kill her with an axe. Her father forbade her to participate in school sports, in order to protect her virginity and to preserve the "honor" of the family.

Her two older siblings still obeyed the conservative views of their parents. As a youth, she, herself, fled into depression ("Hüzün"), and then tried open refusal by her efforts in secondary school and university. She alienated herself more and more from her father and her family, and finally left them entirely.

Necla Kelek was first trained as an engineering draftsman. Later, she studied economy and sociology in Hamburg. She worked in a Turkish travel bureau in Hamburg, and in an engineering office in Wiesbaden. She was disowned by her family, since they did not want to allow her the right to be independent. She got her doctoral degree in 2001, with an investigation into the coming of age of women in Islam.

Kelek's research subject is the parallel society characterized by Islam in Germany. In 2011, she said: "Being a Muslim is becoming a self-sufficient identity. And this identity consists only of being different — different from the Europeans, different from the Africans, different from the Indians. And this frightens me. [Others] do not state their difference in terms of an utter rejection of the society that hosts them, preparing to take over one day. I often hear those Muslim youngsters bragging that one day, this country will be theirs."[1] She also criticizes those who see themselves as victims, saying: "Today, the Turks, or Muslims, are given full access to civil rights, to democracy and liberty — and they reject all that. They have access to good education, health care, social welfare, but they voluntarily choose to keep out, to stagnate in parallel worlds. [...] How can they still consider themselves as victims, as the Jews once were in reality?"[1]

She rejects toleration of the repression of both girls and boys in Islamic families as a "misunderstood tolerance". She lives today with her partner.

Involvement in human rightsEdit

Similar to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dutch politician of Somali origin, or the Egyptian feminist, Sérénade Chafik, Kelek opposes the repression of women in Islam. She is strongly criticized by Islamic organizations for this, especially since she is convinced that there is very little compatibility between Western and Islamic ideals.

The Turkish press, especially, attacks Kelek again and again: Feminists like Kelek, Seyran Ateş, Sonja Fatma Bläser, and Serap Çileli are accused of "exaggeration". Most women are supposedly not exposed to male control, and live in freedom. Until the middle of 2005, this was also the editorial guideline of the liberal-conservative daily paper, Hürriyet, which is very influential among the Turkish people living in Germany: According to a study of the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (Society for Consumer Research, GfK) from 2002, forty percent of them had read this paper in the past two weeks. On May 22, 2005, "Hürriyet" started a Germany-wide campaign "against domestic violence". The discussion events in the large German cities got a large response, although the feminists who had previously been attacked refused to participate.

Kelek was a member of the scientific advisory council of the Giordano Bruno Stiftung, a "foundation for the support of evolutionary humanism", until May 16, 2007.

Scientific and political advisory activitiesEdit

Necla Kelek received her doctorate with an investigation of Islamische Religiosität und ihre Bedeutung in der Lebenswelt von Schülerinnen und Schülern türkischer Herkunft (Islamic religiosity and its importance in the lives of schoolchildren of Turkish background), which appeared as a book in 2002 under the title of Islam im Alltag (Islam in Everyday Life). At that time, she came to the conclusion that schoolchildren individually learn Islam, adapt it to their needs, and use it to form their identity. Their Islamic religiousness is not a hindrance to integration, but, rather, an example of cultural change.

Three years later, Kelek came to quite a different conclusions. In her 2005 book, Die fremde Braut, she mixed autobiography, life stories of Turkish women, and literary forms with results of scientific investigations. Now, her summary was that Turkish tradition and Islamic religiousness could very well be a hindrance for integration. According to her book, many of the young people born in Germany in the separation phase of their lives were married by their parents to a bride or a groom in their place of origin in Turkey, and then brought back to Germany. Thus, integration in Germany was intentionally made more difficult.[2] Kelek showed this with the example of "Gelin", who was brought as a bride from Turkey for an arranged marriage and had no chance or prerequisites at all for integration into German society. To describe this phenomenon, Kelek used conversations with Turkish women she became acquainted with in mosques or privately in Germany.

Die fremde Braut became a best-seller, and was praised in general, even by the critics. The emotionality of the book was felt by the reviewers to be a strength, but there was also clear criticism of sweeping negative statements about the entire segment of the population consisting of Turkish Muslims. A typical example of a reviewer who mixed praise and criticism in this way is Alexandra Senfft in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on May 31, 2005.[3] Kelek received the famed Geschwister-Scholl-Preis for Die fremde Braut, a prize which is awarded to a current book that shows intellectual independence and supports civil freedom, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic courage, and that gives an important impulse to the present awareness of responsibility. The laudatory speech was given by Heribert Prantl, head of the domestic policy department of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and former state prosecutor.

Necla Kelek commonly gives interview and makes political statements in very emphatic, and often polemic, form. For instance, she pleaded in the Die Tageszeitung (taz) of January 16, 2006, for the controversial citizenship test of the state government of Baden-Württemberg, which she described as a "Pasha Test".[4] This test caused quite a stir at the beginning of 2006, as it would require Muslims who wanted to be naturalized in the state of Baden-Württemberg to answer questions to check their loyalty to the constitution and their fundamental attitudes. Kelek also made evaluations like these: According to investigations of the Federal Family Ministry, at least every second Turkish woman is married in the way described. There should therefore be several thousand cases each year.[5] These investigations allegedly referred to the study presented by Family Minister Renate Schmidt in 2004 concerning violence against women in Germany. But it did not cover Kelek's numerical evaluations.[6]

Today, Kelek is in demand as an expert on the subject of Islamic culture in the Western world. In her publication, Die verlorenen Söhne (The Lost Sons, 2006), her central theme is the influence of Islam on the small family. The book is based on Kelek's research project on the subject of "parallel society" at the Evangelischen Fachhochschule für Sozialpädagogik in Hamburg. Here also, Kelek merges autobiographical details, observations, conversations with Turkish retirees, and the results of interviews with Turkish prison convicts. She counsels the Hamburg justice authorities on questions about the treatment of Turkish Muslim prisoners. In preparation for the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag 2005 in Hannover, she was invited to participate in the project group. In addition, she counseled the Baden-Württemberg state government regarding their legislative initiative to make forced marriage a punishable offense. She is a permanent member in the Islamic Conference appointed by the German federal government, and a free-lance author for the women's magazine, "Emma", and many daily newspapers, among others.


Kelek against 60 migration researchersEdit

Shortly before the appearance of Kelek's family sociology study in mid-March 2006, the weekly paper Die Zeit published, on February 2, 2006, an open letter, described as a petition and signed by 60 scientists from the social sciences field in general and migration research in particular, on the integration policy of Germany. The authors were the Bremen professor for intercultural education, Yasemin Karakaşoğlu, and the Cologne psychologist and journalist, Mark Terkessidis.[7] It is directed against the prominent position of Kelek in the official political discourse, and points out deviations from the scientific method in her popular publications. While the conclusions she drew in her dissertation from the data she gathered are scientifically sound, Kelek used that same data set and generalized individual cases into examples of generic features of Muslim migrants with her book and her newspaper articles.

There is no dispute at all that forced marriages and honor killings exist, but arranged marriages (in contrast to forced marriages) can also be traced back to the emergence of marriage markets between the country of origin and the target of migration, which are in turn "the consequence of Europe's policy of separation". It is thus often motivated by the desire for legal migration. This would not be seen, if one (as for instance, Kelek) put an interpretation model of the sweeping confrontation of "Islam" and "Western civilization" on the phenomena in general.

Kelek was given the opportunity to reply in the same edition of the newspaper,[8] which was also reprinted by the daily paper taz on February 3.

She refrained from going further into the accusations directed against her, or defending her new opinion in light of the Empirical research method, but generally accused those who signed the petition of arguing "unscientifically". She accused them of representing the illusion of successful integration of Muslim migrants, despite the "actual state of affairs". Despite daily events which contradicted this view, the representatives of the academic majority opinion allegedly would rather criticize the bearer of bad news than their own views or their "ideological concept of multiculturalism". She intensified her reply, by accusing the "critics from the well-equipped world of the publicly financed migration research" of being "responsible for the failure of the integration policy for 30 years". The true purpose of their objection is "anxiety about their research funds".

There was considerable media reaction. In the daily, conservative newspapers Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung[9][10] and Die Welt,[11] articles appeared which clearly took sides for Kelek's positions. The daily, left-wing newspaper Die Tageszeitung gave adjacent space to a sharp critic of Kelek and to Kelek herself.[12][13] After that, only negative articles appeared in the taz. Various statements also appeared in the liberal Frankfurter Rundschau, including a guest article by Rahel Volz of Terre des Femmes, which supported Kelek in many respects,[14] as well as an article by Mark Terkessidis, who defended the "petition", as one of its authors.[15] The NZZ of February 11, 2006 [16] was rather critical of both sides. The FAZ of February 9, 2006, faulted the "petition of 60 migration researchers" for the fact that only one fifth of the social scientists worked in the field of migration research about the Turks.[17]

Necla Kelek and Seyran Ates received support from Hartmut Krauss, Osnabruck editor and initiator of the Study Group of Critical Marxists, whose "opposing call", with the title, "Gerechtigkeit für demokratische Islamkritikerinnen" ("Justice for democratic Islam critics") was signed by 53 people (among which were journalists, scientists, engineers, authors, and human rights activists, the latter chiefly from Iraq and Iran). In that, it says that honor killings, forced marriages, and a basic patriarchal orientation, just as anti-Jewish conspiracy ideologies and lack of respect for a secular democratic societal order, are "to be taken seriously, and are not marginal phenomena within the Islamic cultural community". For that reason, an "undifferentiated general amnesty for all Muslims" cannot be allowed. The position of the "migration scientists" is above all criticized because the negative manifestations with migrants are always sweepingly derived from the "racism of the receiving society", while the anti-emancipation potential of Islam is disregarded. As long as this is tabooed, it is "rather difficult to develop an appropriate integration discourse".[18]

Alice Schwarzer defended Necla Kelek against the criticism in an article in the FAZ of February 11, 2006, which was re-printed in the feminist monthly Emma;[19] she had bravely broken the silence about a societal taboo. Schwarzer associated this statement with strong personal criticism of the authors of the open letter: Yasemin Karakasoglu is "very, very closely allied with the Islamic scene in Germany"; Mark Terkessidis is merely a self-promoter, and "has little to do with understanding of the world".

Cologne-Ehrenfeld mosqueEdit

Necla Kelek backed the misgivings of Ralph Giordano about building a mosque in Cologne-Ehrenfeld. She argued, among other things, that an Islam is practiced in Germany which has proven to be a hindrance for integration. "These mosques are nuclei of a counter-society. They teach the philosophy of another society and practice a life in the spirit of the sharia. Already, the children would learn the separation from the German society".[20]

Circumcision in GermanyEdit

In 2012, a state court in the German city of Cologne claimed that circumcision of male children for religious purposes was an "act of grievous bodily harm". As a result, some doctors, fearing prosecution, ceased performing the ritual. Many public commentators and bloggers hailed the ruling as a justified protection of children's rights, while others, especially in the Muslim and Jewish communities, criticized the ruling as an attack on religious freedom. Necla Kelek inserted herself into the debate. In an article in Die Welt, she wrote: "The circumcision of Muslim boys is an equally repulsive archaic custom as female genital mutilation among little girls. It is an instrument of oppression, and should be ostracized."[21] Since November 2017, she is official "ambassador" for the registered association intaktiv e. V., which is against circumcision of male children.[22][23]



  • 2011: The Freedom that I Mean... or The Heart – or Wurst – of the Matter, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (ed.): Europe: Insights from the Outside (= Kulturwissenschaft interdisziplinär/Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 5), Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden, ISBN 978-3-8329-5583-0
  • 2007: Türkische Karriere. Allein unter Männern. In Anatolien. (Turkish career. Alone among men. In Anatolia.) In: Ulrike Ackermann (Publ.): Welche Freiheit. Plädoyers für eine offene Gesellschaft. (Which freedom. Plea for an open society.) Matthes & Seitz, Berlin, ISBN 978-3-88221-885-5,(also online)
  • 2007: Erziehungsauftrag und Integration: Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Integrationshemmnissen (Educational task and integration: a debate with integration impediments), in: Deutsche Jugend, Vol. 55, No. 2, 53 - 59.
  • 2006: Die verlorenen Söhne. Plädoyer für die Befreiung des türkisch-muslimischen Mannes. (The lost sons. Plea for the liberation of the Turkish Muslim man) Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne, ISBN 3-462-03686-6
    - Excerpts from the concluding chapter
  • 2005: Die fremde Braut. Ein Bericht aus dem Inneren des türkischen Lebens in Deutschland. (The foreign bride. A report from the inside of Turkish life in Germany) Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne, ISBN 3-462-03469-3
    - Discussion by Rupert Neudeck and by Otto Schily in the Spiegel, Critical review by Ismail Küpeli in analyse & kritik
  • 2002: Islam im Alltag. Islamische Religiosität und ihre Bedeutung in der Lebenswelt von Schülerinnen und Schülern türkischer Herkunft. (Islam in everyday life. Islamic religiousness and its importance in the lives of schoolchildren of Turkish background) Waxmann, Münster, ISBN 3-8309-1169-6 (dissertation)


  • 2006: Islam - zwischen Fundamentalismus und Reform. (Islam - between fundamentalism and reform.) SWR, "Literatur im Foyer" by Thea Dorn, Television discussion with Neclá Kelek, Nahed Selim and Ralph Ghadban, 58 min., first broadcast: April 7, 2006
  • 2005: Verschleierte Unterdrückung? Die Frauen und der Islam. (Veiled repression? Women and Islam.) SWR, Television discussion with Necla Kelek and Seyran Ateş, 44 min., first broadcast: March 8, 2005 [25]


  1. ^ a b Kelek, Necla; Horn, Karen (January–February 2011). "Will Germany be a Divided Nation Again?". Standpoint. Archived from the original on 23 January 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Necla Kelek, 49, best-selling author". The New York Times. December 1, 2005.
  3. ^ Abrechnung mit dem Islam (Settling with Islam), Necla Keleks Aufschrei: Muslimische Frauen in Deutschland (Necla Kelek's outcry: Muslim women in Germany), Alexandra Senfft, FAZ
  4. ^ "Der Pascha-Test", taz, January 16, 2006, Plädoyer von Kelek für den umstrittenen "Gesprächsleitfaden" des baden-württembergischen Innenministeriums für Einbürgerungswillige (Plea from Kelek for the controversial "conversation theme" of the Baden-Württemberg Interior Ministry for applicants for naturalization)
  5. ^ "Eure Toleranz bringt uns in Gefahr" (Your tolerance puts us in danger), Die Welt, February 26, 2005, "Beispiel Zwangsehen: Warum rot-grüne 'Islamversteher' die Lage der moslemischen Frauen nur verschlechtern." ("Example forced marriages: Why the government 'Islam experts' only worsen the situation of Muslim women.") Essay by Necla Kelek
  6. ^ "Lebenssituation, Sicherheit und Gesundheit von Frauen in Deutschland. Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine Eine repräsentative Untersuchung zu Gewalt gegen Frauen in Deutschland." (Life situation, security and health of women in Germany. A representative investigation on violence against women in Germany) Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women, and Youth 2004, here: p. 130f. (long downloading time, 1,111 pages, PDF file). The study shows that approximately 10% of the Turkish migrant women live in involuntarily entered marriages, but warned against generalizations of the results, due to the low number of cases.
  7. ^ Gerechtigkeit für die Muslime! (Justice for the Muslims!) Archived 2007-07-01 at the Wayback Machine Die deutsche Integrationspolitik stützt sich auf Vorurteile. So hat sie keine Zukunft. Petition von 60 Migrationsforschern (The German integration policy is based on prejudice, so it has no future. Petition of 60 migration researchers) Die Zeit, February 2, 2006, No. 6
  8. ^ Sie haben das Leid anderer zugelassen! (You have allowed the misfortune of others!) Eine Antwort auf den offenen Brief von 60 Migrationsforschern: Sie ignorieren Menschenrechtsverletzungen, weil sie nicht in ihr Konzept von Multikulturalismus passen. (An answer to the open letter of 60 migration researchers: You ignore human rights violations because they do not fit in your concept of multiculturalism.) Die Zeit, February 8, 2006, No. 7.
  9. ^ Falsche freiheit (False freedom), Regina Mönch,, February 3, 2006
  10. ^ Die wahre Empirie (The true empiricism), Regina Mönch,, February 8, 2006
  11. ^ Gefährliche Gutmenschen (Dangerous good people), Mit ihrer Kampagne gegen Necla Kelek wollen Migrationsforscher eine notwendige Debatte verhindern (With their campaign against Necla Kelek, migration researchers want to hinder a necessary debate), Mariam Lau, Die Welt, February 8, 2006
  12. ^ Wir und ihr (We and you). Die Debatte um Zwangsehen und Ehrenmorde hat einen rassistischen Unterton erhalten - dank Necla Kelek und anderen Stimmen, die daran das "Wesen des Islam" festmachen (The debate about forced marriages and honor killings has gotten a racist undertone - thanks to Necla Kelek and other voices that link them to the "nature of Islam"), Dilek Zaptcioglu, taz, February 4, 2006
  13. ^ "Entgegnung" ("Reply"), Die Zeit, February 2, 2006, No. 6, Keleks Replik der Petition, übernommen von der (Kelek's reply to the petition accepted by) taz
  14. ^ Vorbild für junge Migrantinnen (Model for young migrant women) Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine - Rahel Volz/TDF verteidigt die Soziologin Necla Kelek (Rahel Volz/TDF defends the sociologist, Necla Kelek), Frankfurter Rundschau, February 14, 2006, at
  15. ^ Mark Terkessidis[permanent dead link], Frankfurter Rundschau, February 2006
  16. ^ Scheinriesen als Migrantenschreck (Fictitious giants as migrant scare), Deutschland diskutiert über Sprachverbote auf Schulhöfen, Pascha-Tests und Islamophobie (Germany discusses foreign language ban in schoolyards, Pasha tests and Islamophobia), Joachim Güntner, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, February 11, 2006
  17. ^ - Einzeltag Archiv (Single day archive) Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine, "Zwangsheiratsschwindler" ("Forced marriage swindlers"), February 9, 2006
  18. ^ Die Kelek-Kontroverse: "Mehr Gerechtigkeit für Muslime?" (The Kelek controversy: "More justice for Muslims?) Archived 2010-07-15 at the Wayback Machine, Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung
  19. ^ "Offene Antwort" ("Open answer") Archived 2007-06-17 at the Wayback Machine, EMMA, March/April 2006, re-print of the article by Schwarzer in the FAZ, Saturday, February 11, 2006, p. 40: "Ihrem Mut verdanken wir alles. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Necla Kelek und Seyran Ateş riskieren ihr Leben." ("We all thank you for your courage. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Necla Kelek, and Seyran Ateş risk their lives.")
  20. ^ "Kölner Moscheenstreit - Das Minarett ist ein Herrschaftssymbol" ("Cologne mosque dispute - the minarette is a symbol of control"), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 5, 2007
  21. ^ "Die Beschneidung – ein unnützes Opfer für Allah" ("Circumcision - a useless sacrifice for Allah"), Die Welt, June 28, 2012
  22. ^ "Neue Botschafter für genitale Selbstbestimmung: Dr. Necla Kelek und Ralf König".
  23. ^ "Intaktiv-Botschafterteam wird erneut bereichert". July 2014.
  24. ^ Web site of the Mercator-Professur[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Verschleierte Unterdrückung? Die Frauen und der Islam, program announcement

External linksEdit