Alarm bells

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that Germany’s attempts at building a multicultural society have ‘absolutely failed’ is a worrying sign that the country could go the way of France ie down the road of cultural and social intolerance. Her observation comes amidst a rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany. Recent surveys provide pointers to the depth of hostility that immigrants evoke in Germany as 30 per cent of those surveyed said they believed the country was ‘overrun by foreigners.’

Germany has a large number of immigrants, mainly from Turkey. That this hostility is rooted in suspicion of Islam is obvious from the fact that 60 per cent of respondents were in favour of restrictions being imposed on the practice of Islam in the country. However, the phenomenon is broader. Anti-Jewish feeling too seems to be mounting as 17 per cent of the respondents said that the Jewish community has too much influence. That 13 per cent would welcome a ‘Fuhrer,’ a German word for leader that is explicitly associated with Adolf Hitler, should send alarm bells ringing through Germany if not Europe.

Economic crisis and unemployment together with ignorance underlie this hostility towards ‘foreigners.’ Political leaders, unable or unwilling to tackle the root cause, prefer to deflect anger away from themselves by directing public attention towards immigrants and blaming them for the shortage of jobs. This has resulted in the surge of sentiment against foreigners and their cultures. Multiculturalism has not failed in Germany. Rather it has not been allowed to succeed by vested interests who have worked to keep society divided. Those who are blaming immigrants for their economic woes should bear in mind that the German economy depends on the hard work, knowledge and skills of immigrants. Hate speech could trigger an exodus of immigrants that would in turn deepen economic problems.

Merkel has blamed immigrants for the failure of multiculturalism in Germany. She is wrong. The onus of building a multicultural society lies with the German state that must be more inclusive and open in its approach to immigrants. Those who are announcing the demise of multiculturalism must bear in mind that it cannot be built overnight. It happens over generations. Learning German will not by itself contribute to building a multicultural society. Immigrants need to feel included to achieve that.

Assembly elections 2019 | Get the latest news, views and analysis on elections in Haryana and Maharashtra on

For election-related news in Maharashtra, click here

For election-related news in Haryana, click here

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)