Monday, November 8, 2010

Immigrants - Out of Time and Place

Turkish women in Germany

"States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host country, respecting its laws and its national identity". - Pope Benedict XVI in a message for the coming 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed on January 16th, 2011

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced recently that the multicultural experiment in the German society failed to succeed. 

Unlike the United States, European countries are not the functioning well as the melting pots. The cultural and historical identities are clearly delineated.

And while most European countries welcomed foreign immigrants and refugees from all over the world, great number of the non-European foreigners failed to integrate into the European societies. This gave rise to frustration and the growing nationalistic sentiment all over Europe.

Muslim immigrants seem to be more resistant to integration than any other ethnic group living in Europe.

No one in Europe wishes to be accused of racism and bigotry, but the growing tension in Europe is becoming more and more visible and calls for a solution.

The head of Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party, Sigmar Gabriel, has told the German publication SPIEGEL ONLINE that the country should get tough on immigrants who are unwilling to learn the language and integrate. He says they should be supported, but that the government and society should also make demands.

The Germans seem to be divided on the subject. A controversial new book by Thilo Sarazin who is a member of the German Central Bank, has, on the one hand, generated opprobrium from the political elite, on the other, a mass following in the German society. He even found supporters among the immigrants who see integration as vital not only for the German society, but also for the development and prosperity of the immigrants themselves. Sarazin's choice of language may seem most unfortunate if not horrifying when viewed in the context of the German past, but the problems underlined by the author are real. He described problems with integration, which are indeed deplorable, but he introduced an element of biological determinism bringing back the infamous racial theories that were propagated by the Nazis. Yet the question Sarazin is asking is not without ground. He climes that the Turkish and Arab integration is a failure. People who do not want to learn the German language and are not interested in the German culture contribute little to the modern German society. Immigrants from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan take advantage of the generous social welfare system without giving anything in return.

Growing crime rate, violence, terror threat and a complete lack of integration are also visible in other European countries, most importantly in France, the Netherlands and Great  Britain. As former colonial powers these countries took large number of immigrants from the former colonies and managed to create eclectic societies. However, the influx of immigrants continues and the new immigrants do not show any signs of integration or even willingness to adopt the cultural standards of their new home countries. Instead, they demand concessions that make the natives uncomfortable or angry.

The problem in Europe is very complex and solution seems almost impossible. There is very little upward mobility among the immigrants. Many remain poor, forever dependent on the social welfare systems. The negative image of some ethnic groups makes them vulnerable to discrimination. Yet people cannot be forced to learn the language and without the language fluency their chances of success diminish. Without education better jobs will remain elusive and so will the prosperity.

By Dominique Allmon ©2010

Source of the quote here
Image source here