Friday, February 18, 2011

Multiculturalism backlash in Europe

Feb 17, 2011
'It can only be a French Islam'
Aside from British PM David Cameron, two other fellow conservative European leaders - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel - have also declared multiculturalism, specifically the integration of Muslims, a failure in their countries. A look at the French and German experiences:

IN A TV interview last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy echoed right-wing complaints about Muslims praying on the streets of French cities. 'In France we don't want people to pray in an ostentatious manner in the street,' he said. 'Our Muslim compatriots should be able to live and practise their religion like anyone else... but it can only be a French Islam and not just an Islam in France.

'If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community... 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 added.

France has Europe's largest Muslim population, about five million, many originally from Africa. France's policy has been one of assimilation, and in the past few years, it has hotly debated issues related to the veiling of Muslim women in public.

'Guest workers in the wrong place'

CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel declared in a speech last October that the concept of multikulti (multiculturalism) had 'failed utterly' and should be abandoned.

Her remarks came days after polls showing a third of Germans viewed immigrants as nothing more than welfare cheats and only 8 per cent of Germans believe migrants living among them are well-integrated.

The experience of 4.5 million Turks in Germany points to the difficulties of integration. In the 1960s, they came in as 'guest workers' and many stayed on. As their numbers grew, a best-seller book last year warned that the country's national Christian identity was under threat. Dr Merkel had to make clear that those who do not accept the German identity 'are in the wrong place here'.

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