The issue of immigration now forcing it’s way on to the Europe wide agenda.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stirred up a storm of controversy by describing Germany’s attempt to build a multicultural society an utter failure.
In a speech to the youth wing of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday, she said:
“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.”
Whilst at pains to point out that immigrants are welcome in Germany, Merkel went on to say that the concept of multiculturism, one where people would “live side-by-side” happily, did not work, and immigrants needed to do more to integrate, including learning German.
Her comments were thought to be aimed at Germany’s 4.3million Muslims. There are around 3000 mosques in the country.
She spoke about her fear that German-ness’ may eventually be lost and her concerns about headscarves in classrooms and Turkish ghettos in cities like Berlin.
“We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity ““ that is what defines us. Those who do not accept this are in the wrong place here.”
A recent poll suggested that 30% of the population of Germany had concerns that their country is being overrun with immigrants.
I am concerned that Germany is following the likes of Belgium and France whose political direction is heading for an uncomfortable rush to the far right following recent debates about banning the Burkha.
I’m all for a sensible discussion about Immigration but all this talk of mutlicultural experiments failing is all wrong.
Germany, just like the United Kingdom, invited immigrants into their country 40-50 years ago when there was a shortage of labour to undertake certain undesirable jobs.
Those immigrants have gone on to have families, 2nd and third generations now play an active part in society.
Here is Stoke-on-Trent I do share the frustration regarding the lack of racial integration in parts of our city.
I have spent a lot of time in cities like Birmingham, Leicester, London and parts of Lancashire, on business. I have witnessed first hand, different cultures living and working side by side. I have seen the respect and tolerance of the different cultures that exist in these progressive societies.
It is fair to say that certain cultural differences may prevent the closest of friendships in some cases but never the less there can be a mutual respect.
A few years ago i was the Chair of an award winning multicultural group set up with the aim of breaking down some of the prejudices that existed predominately in the south of the city.
Parents from both the Muslim community mixed with white parents to encourage their children to adopt a tolerant approach to life in our city.
This group did some great work, barriers were broken down, but i would be lying to suggest it was without difficulties.
There was a real reluctance for some people in the Asian community to get involved.
Until we all promote a society where there is a sensible, commonsense approach to immigration and a real desire for cross cultural integration, progress will be very slow indeed.
There are simply too many quangos and one sided community groups that promote the needs of one culture over another.
There needs to be a simple society charter that agrees to let the different cultures exist and celebrate the diversity whilst promoting a one society ethos which can come together for the greater good of our city/country.
If we fail to do this, at some point in the future, the extremes of the communities will spill their bile out onto the rest of our tolerant society.
People like the Chell Heath racist must never be allowed to influence the young people of today who will become the multi- cultural adults of tomorrow.
The same must be said about the extremists in the Asian Community.
I am completely sold on the notion of a multicultural society. Yes it’s going to take some work, yes there needs to be some give and take, but I think we could make it work… Don’t you?
Or do we take the fall back, vote capturing view of the German Chancellor? Which in my view is a complete cop out!