Immigration and Integration — A Raging Debate in Germany

This week the SPD – the socialist party of Germany – is beginning to prepare the expulsion of Thilo Sarrazin, a member of the board of the Bundesbank, the federal bank, for having published a provocative book blaming non-integrated immigrants, above all Muslim immigrants who live in “parallel societies,” for dragging down Germany.

His thesis included the charge that they are a genetic danger to Germany, a hot-button issue and a reminder of Nazi race theories. The book has triggered a hot debate about immigration and integration – and freedom of expression – dividing the general public, which in large part agrees with the author, from the political class, which is appalled by the charges.

It is considered probable that Sarrazin will also have to leave the Bundesbank.

In a television discussion of the book two evenings ago, one questioner got up and said it was the politicians even more than the Turks who lived in a “parallel society.”

In a commentary on immigration published yesterday in Der Spiegel, which has played a leading role in triggering the debate, Reiner Klingholz puts forward four facts.

1. True, many newcomers have trouble with integration. The OECD says that hardly any other country has as low a level of education as the immigrants to Germany.

But such information causes us to lose sight of all the immigrants that lead perfectly normal average lives, or are even better qualified and earn more money and pay more taxes than the average members of the old, established population.

2. Since 1973, an ever-dwindling number of Turks have been emigrating to Germany. Their net immigration plunged from 10,130 in the year 2000 to 1,746 in 2005. In the meantime, the direction of emigration has even reversed itself. In 2008 – the most recent year with available concrete figures – there was a net emigration of 10,147 persons to Turkey.

3. In fact the numbers support the proposition that Germany is sealing itself off. Neither unqualified nor qualified immigrants are apparently welcome. Only poor EU countries, from which the flow of immigration cannot be stopped, still provided significant numbers of new arrivals to Germany in 2008: 8,103 from Bulgaria and 10,447 from Romania. Statistics also reveal that over the past two years the number of people from majority Muslim countries who returned home significantly outstripped the number who immigrated to Germany.

4. There is a shortage of skilled workers in Germany and current immigration policies must be revised.

• • • •

As to the integration of Muslims, Renate Künast demanded with great urgency in Die Zeit on September 3 that it was time Islam was “naturalized” and that considerably greater efforts be made to educate Muslim children, starting at the Kindergarten level.

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3 responses to “Immigration and Integration — A Raging Debate in Germany

  1. The last point, about providing a secular education for the children, is the key in the long run (IMHO). An instructive parallel is the book “Three Cups of Tea” – the subtitle is “One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time.” It’s about the work of Greg Mortenson, over many years, to build schools, especially for girls, in northern Pakistan and adjoining Afghanistan. His notion is that (among other things) in the long run, providing an alternative makes it harder for the fundamentalist madrassas to recruit, and thereby helps dry up support for the Taliban and similar groups.

    • Yes, that is most admirable.

      The interesting thing about Sarrazin’s book is the storm it triggered in Germany. In Europe anti-Muslim resentiment is focused on questions of integration – in North America on fear of terrorism.

  2. I remember a statistic that noted when a visible minority reach 10% of a population, then the majority begins to feel threatened. Then reasons are created to justify action against the supposed “threat”.