Family clans in Berlin: “All others are opponents” – Interview with Mathias Rohe in the Erlanger Nachrichten

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In an interview with the Erlanger Nachrichten on April 8, 2019, EZIRE director Mathias Rohe discusses the actions of family clans in Berlin. He talks about the structure of clans, the question of the state´s loss of control in some areas, the state’s handling with clans and the role of women in clans.

There is no consensus about the term “clan”; basically, a clan is a specifically structured extended family in which there sometimes are criminal structures that are based on family loyalty in a special way, so Rohe. Since clans are not a homogenous group, one does not know exactly how many clans with how many members exist. Basically, the emergence of clans is based on the history of the Arab-Kurdish asylum procedures in the 70s and 80s, during which people learned to rely only on themselves – the others would be the opponents. The difference to classical organized crime lies in the family background, one usually does not come into a clan from the outside. In addition, clans are very offensive to demonstrate their power in public. This cocky appearance might have caused their image in the public, in which the state had lost control in some streets in Berlin. But this loss of control should not be seen geographically, the problem is not localized,  Rohe says. The judiciary has been dealing with crimes such as unduly acquired wealth for years, but in the social sphere more can be achieved through access to society, education and value systems. The role of clan women is ambivalent, according to Rohe: There are those who are massively abused and oppressed by their husbands as well as those who incite men to commit crimes. In addition, they make a major contribution to the system by educating their sons to be “lions.” Partly, clan members cooperate with the authorities, for example to de-escalate a conflict. Partly, this is also criticized, as it gives additional power to the cooperating clan personalities. The role of mediators as a “justice of the peace” who speaks law beyond the state rules is overestimated, according to Rohe,  but often people are looking for the right solution for the collective and not necessarily for the single victim – this business model must be disturbed. The importance of belonging to the clan has changed in the younger generation: some young people want to part with the clan structure and do not recognize old authorities, others are sometimes even more brutal than the elderly and now also deal with drugs. In addition, there are some attempts to “recruit refugees for the dirty work” – therefore it is so important to offer everyone a meaningful employment, which can not be deported in the foreseeable future, Rohe says.