Following the open-door refugee policy initiated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in August 2015, approximately 550,000 refugee women, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Germany. Studies that address the realities of immigrant Muslim women, primarily through the perspective of intersectionality, do not pay enough attention to the millions of immigrants whose legal status is as yet undefined. This article explores the experiences of hijab-wearing refugee women in Berlin and how they are viewed as the ‘other’ in a multicultural country like Germany. Focusing on refugees who arrived in Germany in the last five years, we conducted interviews with 25 refugee Muslim women. Thematic analysis of the data revealed three central themes: (1) racism, violence and exclusion; (2) empowerment and liberation; and (3) preserving identity and belonging to a community. The women’s narratives demonstrate how this added dimension of subordination–refugeeness–transforms their lived experiences, highlighting the lingering centrality of citizenship in an age many identify as post- or transnational. Intersectional analysis of the interviews suggests that gender, racism and Islamophobia, and legal status cannot be entirely disentangled and that Muslim refugee women who wear the hijab, often experience very different forms of discrimination than their non-hijab wearing counterparts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)