Angela Merkel Calls Multiculturalism 'A Grand Delusion' | HuffPost
Germany's compassionate response to the refugee crisis is over. Significantly, Merkel rejects multiculturalism, which she calls 'a grand delusion'. But what sort of relationship with German culture will a million mainly Muslims form? If Europe's borders are failing, it is because they were designed to fail. IN , my family and I moved into Belmore in southwest Sydney. It is the next suburb to Lakemba. When I first moved there I loved it. The German chancellor said immigrants will have to do more to and to enjoy each other has failed, utterly failed,” she said at the time.
Since her decision last August to suspend the so-called Dublin Regulation - requiring all refugees to lodge their claims in the first EU state they enter - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's watch word has been "compassion". Until the events in Cologne that sufficed to carry most Germans with her.
But in the aftermath of those events, has the welcome Germans extended proved naive and misguided? Under compassion's banner, Merkel tapped a reservoir of open-minded goodwill and public-spirited generosity among Germans. But it also made possible numerous sleights of hand. Compassion is an unmediated sentiment, demanding of me that I do something now to help a fellow human being in desperate physical need. Between us it offers a thrilling moment of inter-personal connection, blind to everything but our common humanity.
The thrill is so satisfying that 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed compassion to be a naturally self-interested sentiment. Significantly, Merkel rejects multiculturalism, which she calls 'a grand delusion'. But what sort of relationship with German culture will a million mainly Muslims form? But beyond the alleviation of momentary need, compassion stays largely silent.
Does it dictate that the fellow human being and his or her descendants whom I have helped his or her need now alleviated become a fellow citizen? Does it establish a lasting political or spiritual covenant between us?
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Arguing from compassion allowed Merkel to allay Germans' fears about accepting a massive influx of new settlers by leaving open the ambiguity, inherent in compassion, about the long-term purpose of Germans' generous helping hand.
On a European level, Pope Francis continues to do this too. The Cologne New Year's Eve attacks, and incidents like it elsewhere in Germany and also in Swedenwhose refugee policies are even more generous and unquestioning than Germany's have hastened a souring already discernible before Christmas. The 'compassion' moment is over. Now that immediate physical need has been alleviated, questions so far avoided must be asked.
Germans protested against the country's refugee intake in the wake of mass sexual assaults in the city of Cologne. Luther's German Bible moulded the German language. Yet how many asylum-seekers or their children will read it? If they are pious Muslims, what will they make of Germany's Christian heritage and liberal, post-Christian culture? But what will historical 'German-ness' mean to the majority? Hitler and the Holocaust? These are deeply unfashionable questions to ask.
A duty of compassion saw 1. But now they must become something particular: No nation with the possible exception of the United States can afford merely to be an empty receptacle of 'universal values'. She decided to ignore the 'lines on the map' and strike her own blow for human freedom and dignity But without those arbitrary lines on the map, there are no nations and no politics. Reinforcing the logic of humanitarian compassion that has suppressed these questions is neo-liberal economics.
There are constant debates over whether to ban the burqa, even though very few women actually wear them in Germany. These discussions serve largely to provide supporters of a ban with a vehicle with which to express their sentiment that tolerance has gone far enough. At the same time, though, it's also true that membership in Christian churches in the country has been shrinking for years.
In alone,people left the church. As Christian churches close in many places in the country, Muslims are building new mosques - or they are taking over buildings that are otherwise empty.
In Hamburg's Horn neighborhood, the Islamic Center al-Nour community is even in the process of converting a former church into a mosque with the help of funding from Kuwait. The church had been empty for more than 16 years with its members having either died, left the church or moved. Nobody is being pushed out. And it also provides the Muslim community with a convenient opportunity to make use of an empty space.
Some nevertheless see the conversion as symbolic.
Chancellor Merkel says German multiculturalism has 'utterly failed'
I understand that I may repeal my consent at any time. The Muslims want to move into their new house of worship later this year.
Until that time, they will be praying in a former underground parking lot. Initially, an investor had bought the building, but his plans for the property didn't pan out and he sold it to the Islamic Center al-Nour in Former pastor Wolfgang Weissbach tenderly refers to the former church as "my first love.
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The pastor suddenly grows uneasy. The three aggrieved retirees stare at the sacrilege before them. Weissbach once baptized children with water from a copper bowl that had been placed on this pedestal.
It was standing next to the Kammeyers when they married in Even though they feel a bit odd about the fact that Muslims will soon be praying in their former church, they did join a demonstration organized by the Citizens' Initiative Pro Germany five years ago to defend the Muslims' right to convert the church into a mosque.
Since their marriage, the couple has lived in a red brick residential complex where they raised their two children and the couple still has a framed photo in their living room of the church they used to attend. These days, half the names on the doorbells here are now Turkish or Arabic. The two SPD members try to maintain good relations with their neighbors, but the extent to which their neighborhood has changed has not been lost on them. On some bus lines in the neighborhood, she says, she hears more "Swahili than German - people cut in line and show little consideration.
She says the neighborhood's social hubs have lost their meaning. She says there is a lack of space in society for the new generation of senior citizens to which the Kammeyers belong.
Share of population with immigration background. Ellen Kammeyer has since left the Protestant Church, but every time she goes past the construction site, she gets a lump in her throat. Her husband, especially, is bothered by the idea that men and women will soon be divided as they pray in the mosque. He has nothing against Islam, he says, but the way some Muslims treat women is in his view "incompatible" with the German constitution.
Hardly a day passes in which the media doesn't report about cases of anti-Semitism among Muslims or about how Muslim children at elementary schools are bullying those who think differently.
A Failure to Differentiate Between Islam and Islamism Often enough, the rejection of Islam manifests itself in the form of vandalism or violence. Statistics from the German Interior Ministry show there were at least attacks on Muslims and mosques last year. That includes hate speech in the internet, but also threatening letters and Nazi symbols or slogans daubed on buildings. In almost all of these cases, it is assumed that the perpetrators had right-wing extremist motives.
Many Germans make little effort to differentiate between Islam and Islamism.
Angela Merkel: German multiculturalism has 'utterly failed' | World news | The Guardian
Muslims are constantly under pressure to justify themselves, even if they have fully integrated into German society. That, too, leads to a situation in Germany in which many feel like the country that they call home is being taken away from them. The fear in Hanan Kayed swells again after every single terrorist attack - each time a self-proclaimed Islamic State stooge shoots or stabs people - or drives a semi-truck into a crowd.
When that happens, she says, she would rather just curl up into a ball and stay in her apartment until things have quieted down. Kayed, 26, just passed her first state examination in law and works for a small organization that helps refugees find rooms in shared apartments.
She also happens to be a pious Muslim. She wears a blazer, a floral-themed shawl and an olive-green headscarf. Born in Cologne as the daughter of Palestinian refugees, she has lived in Berlin for the past eight years. It was after the attack on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo that, for the first time, she heard someone on the train say: The law student says she wants to apply for a traineeship in the public sector, but that her chances of getting one are low, even though she passed her first state legal exam with distinction.
Berlin is currently embroiled in a hefty debate over whether the city-state should allow a neutrality law that bans female teachers from wearing the headscarf in class to remain on the books unchanged.
The current state government, a coalition of the center-left SPD, the far-left Left Party and the Green Party, is considering eliminating the legislation, but a campaign that has more than 2, supporters is also trying to prevent that from happening.
And we have to take a clear stance against that. The scarf has symbolic meaning for many because it provides a visible symbol of what they view as the threat of Islam, making the issue a lightning rod for debates that, even after decades, still haven't dissipated.
That may partly explain why Germany seems so worked up over the issue.
Few other conflicts demonstrate as clearly how difficult it can be for a country of immigrants to establish the right rules. Because if you allow teachers to wear the headscarf, you are accepting the risk that girls will feel increasing pressure from the community to do the same. People of authority are also role models. At the same time, if you prohibit women like Hanan Kayed from being able to work as a judge, you are creating barriers for Muslim women who are self-confidently seeking to pursue a career.
Ultimately, this requires tough decisions over who is worthier of protection.
Law student Kayed still dreams of one day becoming a judge or a prosecutor. She also hopes that, at some point, she will be able to live more freely in Germany than has thus far been possible. Only one month ago, she was again attacked on the street. She was on her way to the university library when a man jostled her at a train station in central Berlin, almost pushed her to the ground and insulted her.
Kayed has already made changes to her life in response.