News / Europe

German Chancellor Calls Multiculturalism Experiment a Failure

Thilo Sarazzin's book
Thilo Sarazzin's book "Germany Does Itself In" is a bestseller that accuses immigrants of damaging Germany by not integrating into society. Sarrazin's polemic chastising of Muslims in particular led the executive board of the center-left Social Democratic

Multimedia

Diaa Bekheet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a bold remark recently saying multiculturalism has failed in Germany. Her verdict marks a shift in her previously liberal line on immigration which had always put her at odds with the more conservative wing of the party. They also align her with Thilo Sarrazin, a former Bundesbank member whose book on how the failure of many of Germany's  immigrants to integrate became a bestseller.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a stark declaration about immigration in Germany.

"The multicultural approach, that we live here side by side and be happy about each other, this approach has failed, utterly failed," the German Chancellor said.

Her comments reflect those of former German bank official, opposition politician and  author Thilo Sarrazin.

"The economic and cultural problems of integration for immigrants from  Islamic countries have an overall negative impact on the economic and social levels of the European countries that take them in," Sarrazi said.

Sarazzin is known for courting controversy and his latest book called Germany Does Itself In claims Muslim immigrants do not contribute to society. It clearly struck a chord with Germans.

"It's a big, big best seller, since the first day it was released in Germany people came into the store and just like grabbed the book," said Bianca Kreumer

"I think the excerpts were provocative, I don't really believe him, but I want to see it in context," Dimitri Belinski said.

Berlin's Kreutzberg neighborhood is home to the bulk of the city's immigrants. Here you'll find women in headscarves, ethnic restaurants and a street market catering to the more than two million people of Turkish origin who live in Germany.

Germany has long relied on immigrants to bolster its workforce. Laborers from countries like Turkey were originally known as guest workers, now that they've been here more than a generation, how they integrate with German society has sparked a debate over the nature of national identity.

Ismail Karayuz has lived here in Berlin since he was a child. He owns a local business, speaks German, pays taxes and says he does his best to contribute to society. Still, he says his heritage is Turkish so he does not feel German.

"Society has not really accepted me as a German,  but I am part of the society here, I live here," he said.

German officials say a small minority of immigrants do not make an effort to fit in and the government should do something about it. Parliament member Michael Fuchs believes immigrants who fail to learn the language or do not try should lost state benefits.

"The social welfare system has possibilities to cut on the social welfare if for instance the parents are not sending their children into both kindergarten or school," Fuchs said.

Germany's banking center, Frankfurt has more immigrants than any other city, and officials are working hard to give them opportunities to fit in. This adult school offers courses in language and culture free to immigrants who can not afford pay. Language director Bernt Eckhardt says it's mandated by law.

"The government requires that if you stay here, you should learn German enough to move and integrate in the society," Eckhardt said.

Pakistani immigrant Tasneem Gul came here six months ago. Although she speaks her native Urdu at home, she is committed to learning German as quickly as possible.

"Very important all foreigners for language, when I don't know about the language, I will not survive in this land," she said.

Chancellor Merkel discussed immigration when she met recently with her Turkish counterpart. Despite her harsh words that multiculturalism is failing, she was careful to say she doesn't oppose immigration altogether, she just wants better integration into German society.  One sign that it is moving in the that direction is Germany's national football team. Nearly half of the players have immigrant roots and its biggest star is an ethnic Turk, born in Germany.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs