Multicultural Germany turning against Muslims
ANGRY claims that Islam is ‘dumbing down’ Germany have shocked its nation’s leaders.
The distinctly multicultural German football team that humiliated England in the World Cup was feted at home as the emblem of a dynamic young country enriched by decades of immigration.
It was beaten by Spain in the semi-final, however, and the national jubilation inspired by players of Turkish, Tunisian and Ghanaian origin is a distant memory today as Germany is caught up in a wave of anti-immigrant feeling that is sweeping across Europe.
Germany’s burdensome history was long considered to have immunised it against the populism flourishing among its neighbours: parties of the far right have never broken through the 5 per cent electoral barrier to win representation in parliament, as they have in half the European Union’s member states.
Now, though, resentments ignored by mainstream politicians are beginning to boil over as Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country engages in what by German standards is an unusually fierce debate about the role of Muslims in the country.
A recent poll showed that 55 per cent of Germans consider Muslim immigrants a burden who “have cost much more socially and financially than they have contributed economically”.
When, in an attempt to defuse public anger about immigrants, President Christian Wulff likened the challenge of integrating Germany’s 4 million Muslims to that of reunification after the fall of communism and proclaimed that Islam, like Christianity, was now part of Germany, it provoked an immediate backlash.
“Mr President, why are you sucking up to Islam?” screamed Bild, the largest-circulation tabloid, which published a poll showing that 66 per cent of the public believe Islam does not belong in Germany.
MPs in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), to which Angela Merkel, the chancellor, and Wulff also belong, seemed eager to distance themselves from him. “Multiculturalism has failed and that’s the truth,” said one MP, Maria Bohmer.
Joachim Herrmann, the conservative Bavarian interior minister, was even more blunt. “There is no reason to integrate Islam into our system of values. Germany does not want to integrate Islam, but to retain its own cultural identity,” he said.
Emotions have been stirred by reports of German Islamic militants, the children of first-generation immigrants, receiving training as terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Several Germans were reported to have been killed in the mountains of Pakistan last Monday in an attack by drone aircraft operated by the CIA.