At first it looked as if things were about to turn around. Christian's health improved after several follow-up operations. He wanted to catch up on his graduation from high school and then study psychology at university. Back at school he met young men with Moroccan and Turkish roots. They sang Islam's praises, and their enthusiasm caught on Christian.
Then, in 2012, "He suddenly came home and told me that he was thinking about converting," remembers his mother. At this time, Lappe was experiencing a crisis of her own. Her partner had suddenly passed away, and she, too, was looking for new meaning in life. Because her son finally seemed to have found something that made him happy, she also began to look more closely into Islam.
Six months after Christian, Sabine also converted. Or "returned to Allah," as she herself puts it. She says the new faith has made her a "balanced person".
First differences of opinion
When she leaves her apartment, she covers herself. "But the face remains free, I don't wear a niqab. I wouldn't find that appropriate here. We're still in Germany." This was what caused her quarrels with Christian to begin, she remembers. "He quickly became much more radical in his views." The fact that his mother went to a German weekly market, chatted with a salesman and even shook his hand enraged him. "Mama, don't do that, that is haram (forbidden)," he scolded her.
But Sabine did not put up with her son's objections: "I shake hands with everyone when I think that's the way it should be. Not with a Muslim man, of course. But I can't suddenly say to Mr. Müller who has sold me tomatoes for the past 15 years, 'I'm sorry, that's no longer possible, I'm a Muslim now.'"
Christian eventually graduated from secondary school in 2013. At that time, he already was a regular visitor of Dortmund's Taqwa Mosque. Sabine also tagged along. She wanted to see where her son spent his time and with whom. "In the beginning I was very impressed," she remembers. "You get there and as a German you suddenly feel like a star. Everyone is interested in how you found Islam, and everyone loves you."
But there were also things she didn't appreciate. "I noticed that many of the women were just repeating what their husbands had told them," she says. "I openly questioned that and told them: 'Read the Koran yourself, don't just repeat.'"
These words didn't go down well. Christian also came to feel the tension. "He was approached by brothers in faith. They told him: 'Get your mother in line. She stirs things up around here.' And he instructed me to stop." Sabine says she wasn't worried about Christian at this point. "I thought he had to prove himself as a German Muslim."