Angela Merkel's Epiphany


German Chancellor Andrea Merkel’s acknowledgement that multiculturalism had “utterly failed” in her country merely affirms what most Germans have long known. During the 1950s and 1960s large numbers of guest workers, mainly men, were recruited by Germany and other Northern European countries as laborers in rebuilding their economies following World War II. They were expected to return home after the work shortages ended, but in a monumental absence of mind, were not asked to leave or deported. In Germany, the bulk of these workers came from Turkey as part of a Turkish-German agreement. By the 1970s these men began bringing families and as a consequence Germany now has a Muslim population of over three million people, or 3.7 percent of the population and the Muslim community continues to grow.

The Turkish Muslims, even those who have the means, tend to remain in ethnic enclaves, many of which are coming to resemble underclass communities in the United States. The German political scientist Volker Eichener expressed the fear of “an Americanization of German cities” and a “danger of social disintegration.” In the Muslin Neukolln district in Berlin, for instance, a subculture has developed “with its own value systems and ways of behavior… formed by youth gangs.” The segregation of this community does not appear to be diminishing, and may, in fact, be growing. The district has Berlin’s highest percentage of welfare recipients and the highest use of housing benefits. In March of 2006, the district received wide media coverage when the head of a secondary school wrote an open letter desperately seeking help from education officials “because violence in the school had made the lessons unbearable.”

Crime in Germany grew by an astounding 372 percent between 1965 and 1995, and much of that rise is attributable to immigration. It has declined marginally since then, but this may be the result more of under-reporting than of any actual decrease. According to Stephen Brown, police on routine checks in immigrant neighborhoods in major German cities “are met with angry crowds and often risk assault.” Sometimes the police are swarmed by residents when they try to make an arrest. “Overall, Germany’s police union recorded an average of 26,000 such occurrences in recent years.”

Perhaps as disturbing as the increase in crime is the rise in fundamentalist beliefs, especially among Muslims born in Germany, as revealed in a recent study. The study, conducted by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in 2004 involved a sample of 1000 Muslims chosen at random, 500 high school students, 150 university students and 60 active male members of Islamic associations. In all samples, between 75 percent and 85 percent of respondents described themselves as religious or very religious. Almost all Muslims take the Koran very seriously, with 80 percent of the general population agreeing “completely” that the Koran is “the true revelation of God.”  This same belief was even held by over two-thirds of the college students. In the general sample, almost half of expressed the view that the observance of their religion was more important than democracy. Some 30 percent thought that it should be forbidden to persuade Muslims to change their religion and only 12 percent identified themselves as German.

Similar attitudes were found among high school students with only 10 percent expressing a cultural identification with Germany. About half feel no inclination to adapt to German culture and express the belief that they should be accepted on their own terms. It is disturbing, but hardly surprising given these views, that fully one-fourth express a readiness to exercise violence against unbelievers in the service of Islam.

Among university students, a significant minority adopt a religious attitude that involves “a strong devaluation of the West” and a perception that the World’s Muslim population suffers from “discrimination and oppression” with more than half believing that they personally have been victims of discrimination by the police and government agencies.

Among the 60 male members of mosques or Islamic organizations, this sense of worldwide victimhood was especially intense. According to the researchers, “striking were the frequently exaggerated reports about a climate of prejudice, hostility, rejection and discrimination against Muslims in Germany.” In most instances, however, these perceptions could not be tied to any personal experience with discrimination. The younger of these activists were described as “self-assured Muslims” who “demand they be given recognition” and “have the vision of forming a kind of political or even economic avant-garde.” They expressed “the expectation that the German state should introduce special rights for Muslims” including support of a “parallel legal society” that would uphold sharia law for Muslims. In addition, they were ambivalent about the freedom of German society. For instance, they praised Germany for its religious tolerance, but absolutely rejected the right of Muslim women to marry non-Muslims. The authors argue that the activists extreme views toward Islamic law, when coupled with their powerful sense of victimization, make them likely candidates for radicalization.

In summary these government researchers report that some 40 percent of Muslims accept a fundamentalist view exaggerating the value of Islam and derogating Western, Christian-influenced culture. In addition, about 6 percent of the all Muslims in Germany, or about 200,000 people, expressed views consistent with support for violence to further religious aims. Not a happy thought in an age of Islamic terrorism.

Chancellor Merkel has it exactly right. Multiculturalism has failed in Germany.

Nevertheless the bureaucrats in Brussels, urged on by the United States, are pressing ahead for the admission of Turkey to the European Union. Should that come to pass, Turkey’s 70 million Muslim citizens, under the Amsterdam Treaty, would have the right to settle and work in any country party to the treaty.  A great many would gravitate to Germany where they could expect a warm welcome from their compatriots. By such an act the European Union will be hastening the day, in Thilo Sarracin’s trenchant language, that Germany does “away with itself.”  Unless, that is, the German people come to their senses and elect leaders who do away with the European Union.

This article contains excerpts from Byron Roth’s forthcoming The Perils of Diversity: Immigration and Human Nature.