Attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have “utterly failed”, Chancellor Angela Merkel says.
She said the so-called “multikulti” concept–where people would “live side-by-side” happily–did not work, and immigrants needed to do more to integrate–including learning German.
The comments come amid rising anti-immigration feeling in Germany.
A recent survey suggested more than 30% of people believed the country was “overrun by foreigners”.
The study–by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think-tank–also showed that roughly the same number thought that some 16 million of Germany’s immigrants or people with foreign origins had come to the country for its social benefits.
Mrs Merkel told a gathering of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday that at “the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country.”
She added: “We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone’, but this isn’t reality.”
“And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other . . . has failed, utterly failed.”
In her speech in Potsdam, however, the chancellor made clear that immigrants were welcome in Germany.
She specifically referred to recent comments by German President Christian Wulff who said that Islam was “part of Germany”, like Christianity and Judaism.
Mrs Merkel said: “We should not be a country either which gives the impression to the outside world that those who don’t speak German immediately or who were not raised speaking German are not welcome here.”
There has been intense debate about multiculturalism in Germany in recent months.
Correspondents say Mrs Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU and its allies to take a tougher stance and require immigrants to do more to adapt to German society.
Earlier this week, Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, said it was “obvious that immigrants from different cultures like Turkey and Arab countries, all in all, find it harder” to integrate.
“‘Multikulti’ is dead,” Mr Seehofer said.
Earlier this month the chancellor held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two leaders pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany’s estimated 2.5 million-strong Turkish community.
The debate first heated up in August when Thilo Sarrazin, a senior official at Germany’s central bank, said that “no immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime”. Mr Sarrazin has since resigned.
Such recent strong anti-immigration feelings from mainstream politicians come amid an anger in Germany about high unemployment, even if the economy is growing faster than those of its rivals, our correspondent says.
He adds that there also seems to be a new strident tone in the country, perhaps leading to less reticence about no-go-areas of the past.
The Drudge Report, that highly sensitive weather-vane for what interests Americans–as opposed to what the MSM wants them interested in–has seen fit today to carry not one but two different reports on German Chancellor Merkel’s negative remarks on multiculturalism, both with the same headline:
Merkel says German multicultural society has failed BBC News Europe 17 October 2010
Merkel says German multiculturalism has failed by Sabine Siebold Reuters Sun Oct 17 2010
(Note that Drudge, seeking to supply its readers’ appetite, had to use U.K. sources.)
Sounds good–but not good enough to trick The Vanishing American:
. . . let’s remember that she has said things like this over the years. I specifically remember a time a few years ago when a number of the Western leaders made remarks along the same lines, almost in unison. And here is a piece from almost six years ago, wherein Merkel said almost the same thing . . .
this was just after the murder of Theo van Gogh, at a time when the peoples of Western countries raised a loud alarm about the Islamic presence.
So following these 2004 pronouncements on the ‘death of multiculturalism,’ here we are, six years later, still at square one–no, we are not where we were six years ago. We are much farther along the road to the loss of our countries and our culture. If multiculturalism was dead back in 2004, why is it still lurching along?
Reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated Saturday October 16, 2010
Citing similar speeches from the UK’s Tony Blair and Australia’s John Howard, TVA answers:
The same pattern is there in all these remarks by Western leaders: they claim that ‘multiculturalism is dead’–which is just a way of offering a sop to their citizens who are now vociferously questioning mass immigration–but then they qualify their words by saying that “we have to have integration; the immigrants (who will, of course, keep coming) must learn to integrate and become part of our way of life,” etc. . . .
These ‘leaders’ are just trying to pacify the restless natives of their countries by throwing out a few deceptive words to quell the discontent. . . . They are just trying to gull and lull their easily-fooled constituencies. Let’s not be among those easily fooled.
There is no doubt that TVA is correct about this, as an attentive reading of the news reports here shows–for instance the Reuters version:
Merkel . . . said on Saturday that . . . Germany could not get by without skilled foreign workers.
But reflexive pessimism is misplaced: that Merkel, just like John McCain or David Cameron, feels the need to make these noises reflects the perception that they cannot entirely ignore what their electorate thinks, much though they wish to. For this, heroes like Germany’s Thilo Sarrazin and the patriotic blogosphere–including The Vanishing American–deserve much credit.
But as yet, no rest.