Berlin opera house reaches out to Turkish minority

29th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Berlin's avant-garde Komische Oper opera house said Tuesday it plans to reach out to the German capital's large Turkish minority with translations of performances on screens at every seat.

In a first for Germany, wracked for months by a debate on the integration of its Muslim community, the move would underline the Komische Oper's long-standing aim of being an "opera house for all," it said.

"This is a symbolic gesture, a signal that we are sending (to the Turkish community) to say 'we hear you,'" artistic director Andreas Homoki told AFP.

"The level of German within Turkish families differs a lot. Children and young people speak it very well but their grandmothers, for example, often have problems," he said.

"So what we want is for the grandmother to be able to go to the opera with her grandchildren."

English and French translations will also be available from September for the many tourists visiting the German capital, the opera house in central Berlin said.

Berlin's 300,000-strong Turkish minority is the largest in a city outside Turkey, with many living in the "Little Istanbul" Kreuzberg district, part of a community numbering some 2.5 million nationwide.

A member of the central bank sparked outrage last August by saying the country was being made "more stupid" by its four million poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants, triggering a nationwide debate.

Thilo Sarrazin resigned and was shunned by politicians but his book -- "Germany Does Itself In" -- flew off the shelves to top best-seller lists, and polls showed considerable sympathy for some of his views.

© 2011 AFP

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