Sarkozy claims multiculturalism “clearly a failure”

News Agencies – February 10, 2011

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has declared that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or former leaders who have condemned it. He responded to the policy which advocates that host societies welcome and foster distinct cultural and religious immigrant groups.“The French national community cannot accept a change in its lifestyle, equality between men and women … freedom for little girls to go to school,” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s ex-prime minister John Howard and Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar have also recently said multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants.
Mr. Sarkozy added that “our Muslim compatriots must be able to practise their religion, as any citizen can,” but he noted “we in France do not want people to pray in an ostentatious way in the street.” French far-right leader Marine Le Pen late last year came under fire for comparing Muslims praying in the streets outside overcrowded mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.

Multiculturalism Debate Boiling in UK After Cameron’s Speech

7 February 2011

After Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the model of multiculturalism at state level has failed, a heated debate has sprung up. Tariq Modood writes a fervent plea for multiculturalism and shows some of the many examples of where it is already in practice. The Independent reports of attacks from Muslim groups and the Labour Party on the Prime Minister, who is said to be “livid” about the reactions. The BBC gives a feature of what different parties of the debate and academics understand by “multiculturalism”, while the New Statesman calls Cameron’s remarks cynical, but also shows disappointment with the Labour Party’s response. The Financial Times and a Daily Telegraph blog acknowledge the importance of the Prime Minister’s speech as a warning against Islamic extremism.

“Multikulti” or Assimilation? The Question of European Identity

7 February 2011

In this opinion piece, Paul Schulmeister argues that despite the doubts raised by debates concerning the integration of foreigners in Europe, the notion of European identity does exist, and must be promoted. While on the one hand, we should not exaggerate concerning the difficulties that foreigners have had in integrating, on the other hand we should not shy away from wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” or giving a piggy bank as a present.

According to Schulmeister, European identity ultimately rests on the concepts of freedom and justice; the rationality of the Enlightenment; and a striving towards the absolute, which is tempered by scientific relativism. While the German Chancellor Merkel says that “‘Multikulti’ has failed,” what she means is that the ideology of multiculturalism has failed, given that multiculturalism has become a part of everyday life. Schulmeister states that “lip service to European leitkultur” is simply not enough: for immigrants that choose Europe as their new homeland, there must be an unreserved recognition of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and equality of the sexes.

State Multiculturalism Has Failed, Says David Cameron

5 February

The prime minister has criticised “state multiculturalism” in his first speech on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism since being elected. Addressing a security conference in Germany, David Cameron argued the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to extremism. He also signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.

But the Muslim Council of Britain said its community was being seen as part of the problem rather than the solution. Mr Cameron suggested there would be greater scrutiny of some Muslim groups that get public money but do little to tackle extremism. Ministers should refuse to share platforms or engage with such groups, which should be denied access to public funds and barred from spreading their message in universities and prisons, he argued.

The slow death of multiculturalism in Europe

October 28, 2010
Today’s Zaman

Has multiculturalism run its course in Europe? If one takes a picture of certain European countries today and freezes it, that would be the logical conclusion.

The European right is thriving on anti-immigrant attitudes and is likely to continue to reap the benefits in the short term. But there are forces that are sure to keep multiculturalism alive whether we like it or not. [continue reading]

The slow death of multiculturalism in Europe

October 28, 2010

Has multiculturalism run its course in Europe? If one takes a picture of
certain European countries today and freezes it, that would be the
logical conclusion.

The European right is thriving on anti-immigrant attitudes and is likely
to continue to reap the benefits in the short term. But there are forces
that are sure to keep multiculturalism alive whether we like it or not.

Take Germany as an example. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said bluntly
that Germany has failed to integrate large immigrant communities. The
complaint is that most Turks and Muslims who came to Germany in the
1960s to jumpstart the German economy after World War II have not
integrated into German society. They kept their language, religion and
most of their cultural habits. Instead of blending in, they created
their own parallel societies.

But is it logical to conclude that multiculturalism is dead because
certain European countries have failed to integrate their minority
communities? First of all, what some European countries present as
multicultural policies have very little to do with multiculturalism.
Again Germany is a case in point. German governments welcomed Greek,
Italian, Portuguese and Turkish workers in the 1950s and 1960s and
treated them as “guest workers.” But it never occurred to them that
these so-called guest workers were also human beings with social and
familial needs just like any other people. As a result, the German
governments made very little or no effort in creating a social and
political environment for them to integrate.

But it would be a mistake to think this is only a matter of policy. The
deeper issue is how culture and multiculturalism are understood in the
German context. “Multiculturalism” as a term has largely negative
connotations because “Kultur” in German means something rather different
than culture in French and/or English. Nietzsche, Oswald Spengler and
Thomas Mann used Kultur to denote the intellectual, spiritual, artistic
and religious values of a society. For many German thinkers in the 19th
century, civilization, which meant European civilization, was a sign of
decadence and loss of cultural purity. Culture, by contrast, meant
something more profound, something to be found in the Geist of a nation.
Given this definition of culture, how is any non-German-born person
supposed to participate in the German culture?

Besides these critical issues, what is the alternative to
multiculturalism? Forced integration? Assimilation? Walls of separation?
Or a complete halt of all immigration? The last option, which is the
never-ending political talk of all right-wing political parties from
Berlin and Paris to Washington, is not an option at all. The reason is
that the economic realities of globalization, the current state of labor
force and demographic trends in Europe make it impossible to stop

The age of cultural purism has ended. Europeans need to wake up to this
simple fact. As Fernand Braudel, the prominent French historian of
civilization, said: “The history of civilizations, in fact, is the
history of continual borrowings over many centuries, despite which each
civilization has kept its own original character. It must be admitted,
however, that now is the first time when one decisive aspect of a
particular civilization has been adopted willingly by all the
civilizations in the world…”

Instead of mourning the loss of an imaginary cultural heritage, we need
to articulate a new definition of culture. This definition will have to
be based not on some abstract notions and traits but on a deep sense of
social and filial empathy, a sense of reaching out to others, and
enriching oneself through the discovery of the other. An ethics of
coexistence can nourish a sense of cultural empathy without alienating

German media roundup: Merkel’s convoluted immigration policy

18 October 2010

The German government announced plans on Monday for a raft of measures aimed at fostering integration of immigrants, two days after Merkel said multiculturalism had “completely failed.”

Merkel’s centre-right cabinet would adopt “concrete” new regulations governing immigration policy and residency permits, with a focus on German language courses and combating forced marriages, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

Saxony’s Leipziger Volkszeitung also pointed out Merkel’s seeming hypocrisy on the issue of immigration.

“Islam is part of Germany, but multiculturalism isn’t, says Merkel while giddily clapping for the TV cameras when Mesut Özil scores goals for the German national football team,” wrote the paper, referring to the midfielder with Turkish roots.

“While the federal government attempts to hash out criteria for highly qualified immigrants, the flailing CSU boss Horst Seehofer fantasises about foreign cultures and stopping immigration while enjoying Merkel’s protection. But that will simply scare away qualified experts,” the paper opined.
But the right-wing daily Die Welt wrote that multiculturalism can’t be dead, because it never lived in the first place.

“No one has anything against immigrants who live and work here and want to fit in,” the paper wrote. “But many have something against immigrants who want to bring their own laws along. To immigrate doesn’t just mean accepting the traditions of the chosen country, but respecting them too.” Those who choose not to do so should “please stay away,” the paper said.

Leftist daily Die Tageszeitung said that the German abbreviation for multiculturalism, Multikulti, isn’t even used by the Green party as it once was, and has instead become a “puppet for conservative politicians to batter ritually when they crave applause.”

New Dissertation makes the news

When Mosa Sayed, researcher at the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, defended his thesis, “Islam och arvsrätt i det mångkulturella Sverige. En internationellt privaträttslig och jämförande studie” (“Islam and inheritence law in multicultural Sweden”) it was spoken about as controversial already, and as a result the hall was packed and had to be guarded by watchmen. Even so the disputation ran without interruptions.

Dr. Sayed himself says the dissertation is to be considered a contribution to the debate of multiculturalism in Sweden.

In a response, well known debater on Islam related subjects Dilsa Demirbag-Stan says Sayed is pleading for the introduction of Shari’a inheritance laws for Muslims in Sweden – and this, she states, would give women half the inheritance of men. “Eager to express their sympathy for multiculturalism, the faculty of law in Uppsala have let Sayed’s sniper-shooting at the Swedish constitution and the citizen’s equal rights pass as law.”

In a response to Demirbag-Sten, Torbjörn Andersson – Dean of the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University – states that “Sayed’s thesis is a pioneering work in a field in need of exchange of opinions and research, but which also is charged with political tension. To discuss multi- and mono-cultural value structures, equality issues, and people need to be able to arrange their family affairs in a predictable way, requires nuance and objectivity. Sayed shoulders his responsibility.”

Amsterdam theatre group promotes multiculturalism

Radio Netherlands Worldwide this week features a story on Jong Rast, a theatre project aimed at integrating youth in the multicultural Amsterdam West neighborhood.

The project holds auditions and recruits students from 15-24 years old from local schools, with the goal of finding “promising young actors from various cultural backgrounds who can relay their own experiences from different perspectives.” Sufyen, a participant in the program explains, “Everyone here has one passion: acting. We don’t care if people are black or white, what kind of clothes they wear or if a girl does or does not wear a headscarf.”

Britons are suspicious towards Muslims, study finds

The annual British Social Attitudes Survey has revealed a deep suspicion of British people towards their Muslim fellow citizens. A majority claims that multiculturalism has failed, with 52 percent claiming that Britain is deeply divided along religious lines and 45 percent saying that religious diversity has had a negative impact. Only a quarter feels positive about Muslims.

Opposition to Islam is far greater than to any other faith, but suspicion towards religion in general has risen as well. David Voas, professor of population studies at Manchester University, who analyzed the data, again sees a connection to Islam in this tendency. He said that people were becoming intolerant towards all religions because of “the degree to which Islam is perceived as a threat to social cohesion”.

The study will be published later this month.