It's past 1:30 a.m. and for Ozcan Mutlu the party is just beginning. He's in the middle of a dance floor on the eastern side of the city, hips swinging, arms flailing. In a club dominated by young, blue-eyed blonds, Mutlu, a balding Turkish German who is Muslim, is an oddity.
But that's the point. Mutlu, 37, a member of Berlin's state legislature, is part of a movement that seeks to create better understanding between the country's Christian majority and its rapidly growing Muslim population, by pushing dialog and interaction.
Officially, he's at the club, the seventh one he's visited that night, to do outreach for the Greens, his political party. But he's also an ambassador of sorts for the estimated 2.5 million people of Turkish descent who live in Germany. Until almost dawn, he fields questions about his heritage and his beliefs from more than a few curious partiers.
Shaken by the disclosure that several of the terrorists who led the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States had lived in Germany, this society has been locked in painful discussions about what it might have done differently to stop the atrocities and what it could do to prevent them in the future.
"For years Germany refused to be a multicultural society," said Mutlu, the country's first directly elected legislator of Turkish descent. "You walk down the street and see people and colorful shops from all over the world. But German politicians refused to acknowledge this. . . . What we've seen is that when people are scapegoated and treated badly, that's the soil for fundamentalism."
The national soul-searching is finally producing some results. State and federal governments in recent months have introduced laws and regulations intended to integrate the newcomers into German society and be tougher with people deemed to support terrorism.
One measure, instituted on Jan. 1, requires new immigrants who are not proficient in German to complete 600 hours of coursework in the language and 30 hours of German history, culture and political and legal system -- or risk losing their visas.
Also, some of the country's 16 states have banned teachers from wearing head scarves in public school classrooms in an effort, they say, to try to make sure one religion does not dominate another in an educational setting.
At the same time, the government is hoping to build new understanding of the immigrants' traditions. Grade schools, which for decades included lessons only on Christianity and Judaism, are revamping their curriculums to include Islam.
Some businesses are trying to be more inclusive, too. The Kempinski hotel chain, for instance, has always provided Bibles in its rooms but now also offers Islamic prayer rugs which, according to the company, can be "installed in the guest's room or suite aligned in the direction of Mecca."
The government has also expanded its power to deport people suspected of ties to radical Muslim groups and to monitor mosques. This spring, it deported a 59-year-old Muslim cleric for being a threat to "public security" after he made statements that praised suicide bombers in Iraq as "martyrs" and called Germans "useless" in a sermon.
As one of only five Turkish Germans among about 140 members of Berlin's state legislature (there are also five in the national parliament), Mutlu has been simultaneously praised and criticized in his community for his work.
Some Turks call him a hero for pushing for non-discrimination legislation, but others say they see nothing wrong with separate-but-equal and feel they should have the right to live apart from German society.
Mutlu has supported the city's ban on head scarves worn by teachers and publicly backed the German government's view that the murders of Armenians in Turkey starting in 1915 constituted "genocide" rather than "mass killing," as the Turkish government contends.
"People were very shocked and very disappointed" over that stance, said Bilka Oeney, a journalist for Turkish Radio and Television in the capital. "He is of Turkish origin and the Turks expect him to act in a certain way. But he is also a member of parliament, so the Germans expect him to act in a German way, and sometimes this is hard to balance."
Mutlu's father came from Turkey to Germany in 1970 under a guest worker program. For three years he worked in construction, sending money home to his wife, Ozcan, and another son and daughter, and visiting whenever he could before deciding in 1973 that the family should live together and make Germany its home.
Mutlu grew up in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood, which at the time was poor and largely Turkish. Until recently, he said, it was the only part of the country where he felt welcome. In other places, "the way they looked at me and the way they treated me and talked to me -- it wasn't the way you would be to a friend," Mutlu said.
In his twenties, after getting an electrical engineering degree and interning at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he decided to enter politics. He won a seat at the district council of his neighborhood in 1992 and in the city parliament in 1999.
Today, the gregarious Mutlu is a well-known figure in the now-trendy Kreuzberg. He and his wife, Sevin, 37, who runs a small souvenir shop, have a son, 15, and a daughter, 5.
This month, Mutlu made a run for national parliament. He lost but says he will run again.
This year's campaign was a difficult one for Turkish Germans. With an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 voters, they could have swung the hotly contested election if they had voted as a bloc, but the group was largely ignored by the major political parties.
Though figures for this year's elections are not yet available, about 80 percent of Turkish voters have traditionally voted "Red-Green," meaning either for the Social Democratic Party led by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder or the Greens, Schroeder's coalition partner of which Mutlu is a member.
The Greens published bilingual posters and flyers for their campaign. The only other party to pay attention to the Turkish community was the National Democratic Party, which essentially called for immigrants' expulsion. The far-right group posted ads featuring a picture of two women with head scarves and the words, "Bye, bye. Go home."
"This campaign poster was not forbidden," Mutlu said. "They called it freedom of speech, but I think it should not be allowed."
Mutlu said he would remain with the Berlin assembly, where he specializes in multicultural education. He co-founded the country's first bilingual Turkish-German school and is leading a project that offers German language courses to parents of immigrant children.
He is eager to introduce more changes into the curriculum. The history of the Ottoman Empire should be taught, he said, along with the Crusades.
Mutlu is also working on getting Muslim leaders more engaged. "If an imam in front of Friday prayer says something is important, it counts much more than my speech," Mutlu said.
Mutlu said the next step will be to ask ethnic Germans to get involved in integration programs. Hence, the clubbing, which on that night lasted until 4 a.m. "To have a real multicultural Germany," he said, "both sides have to move."