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  • German Muslims are highly unlikely to follow the French example

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on November 7th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Helen at the EU Referendum blog had already linked to this article: Riots like those in France are very unlikely to happen in Germany (apart from some copycats), for quite peculiar reasons:

    …while some blame the government’s recent hardline law-and-order policies, others see the root of the problem in broken promises by the French government to its immigrant communities: The French integration model insists that all citizens are equal before the state, but some say cultural minorities are being left without a voice.

    In Germany, on the other hand, immigrants have so far lacked any sense of entitlement. Unlike France, Britain or the Netherlands, Berlin has only recently opened up citizenship and loosened naturalization laws.

    Some say this might be one of the reasons why similar riots have not taken place in Germany so far. The country is home to Europe’s second-largest Muslim population — an estimated 3.7 million — after France and has a two-million-strong Turkish minority.

    “Turks still see themselves to a large extent as Turks and not Germans. Only once they start seeing themselves as (citizens), they start making demands on the society in which they live.”

    If you don’t make any promises to people, they can’t accuse you of breaking them – it’s as easy as that. Germany has never been a country open to immigrants. Muslims moving always were told that they were guests, and expected to work here for some years, and then to leave again. The mostly Turkish migrant workers themselves fully intended to return sooner or later,
    and therefore never even tried to integrate themselves, or demanded full citizenship for themselves. Returning turned out to be a lot harder than planned. Most tried to go back, but found out that they simply no longer fitted in after a decade or two in Germany, so they reluctantly decided to stay in Germany, which is a much better country to retire in than Turkey. Even so they mostly continue to regard themselves as Turks rather than Germans, and try to instill the same feeling in their children. Since nationalism is a much more important factor with them than Islam, they are more like Mexican immigrants in the United States, than Algerian immigrants in France. Cultural differences are greater, and so is their urge to make their children feel loyal to the ‘old country’ than with Mexicans in America, so it will take longer to assimilate them, but I am confident that we can do it over time.

    Their living conditions are also very different from those of French Muslims:

    Koopmans added that violence among immigrants in Germany is actually more common than in France, but still tends to be related to conflicts in their countries of origins. He named aggression between Turks and Kurds and between different ethnic groups from the former Yugoslavia as examples.

    “In France, you find almost no political violence that is related to homeland violence,” Koopmans said, adding that he expects the situation in Germany to change as more immigrants start to feel like citizens of Germany.

    “We don’t have these closed clusters of immigrants,” said Klaus J. Bade, who directs the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at Osnabrück University.

    Immigrant-dominated neighborhoods such as Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln are undoubtedly social hot spots, but Bade pointed out that they were still far from being ghettos.

    “I don’t see any parallel societies developing there,” Bade said. “These are relatively mixed areas.”

     

    10 Responses to “German Muslims are highly unlikely to follow the French example”

    1. Scott Ferguson Says:

      Maybe we should take a cue from the Germans with respect to Mexican migration. Make work permits easy to get, and green cards hard. Bush’s approach is probably the right one.

    2. Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim Says:

      Svenska Dagbladet, one of the three major national dailies in Sweden, reports that there has now been some trouble in Berlin and Bremen. Here’s my translation:

      <news>
      French Unrest Spreads to Germany

      Five cars were set alight during the night between Saturday & Sunday in the dilapidated city quarter Moabit in central Berlin. The night before, several cars were burned in an empty building in the harbor city Bremen in northern Germany.

      The police fear that the pattern of unrest in France will spread to poor areas in Germany. They cannot rule out the possibility that the attacks were evoked by the vandalism France has experienced, said a police spokesman.

      No one was injured in the fires in Moabit. The burned-out cars were found in five different streets.
      </news>

      These may well be mere copy-cat events. I certainly hope so.

    3. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Scott,

      but stopping illegal immmigration won’t be so easy. It’s hard to resist immigration pressure without resorting to serious violence.

      Melchior,

      those are indeed copycats.

    4. Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim Says:

      Dagens Nyheter has a little more, including a quote from Wolfgang Schäuble, who, while averring that the situations in Germany & France can’t be compared, says: “But even in Germany there are areas with high proportion of immigrants, who are more and more being separated (‘avgränsas’, probably ‘abgegrenzt werden’ in German) from the rest of society.”

    5. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Yes, but nobody *makes* the Muslims live there. Discrimination isn’t unknown in Germany, but it’s not so bad that Turks are locked into a quarter.

    6. Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim Says:

      Ralf: you have a point, but I have two questions:

      (1) is the more or less forced isolation of the immigrants in France the sole or chief determining factor in the violence there? If not, then the fact that in Germany the Muslims are isolated by choice doesn’t by itself afford full protection from the violence;
      (2) is it possible that the rage in France could start to resonate with the more general alienation that some Muslim immigrants feel in other European countries, even if that alienation arises in large part from voluntary isolation from the rest of society?

      I’m not saying that the answers are ‘no’ and ‘yes’ respectively, but one ought to consider the possibility that rage arising out of one set of circumstances could attract to itself various sorts of related but less severe alienations elsewhere.

    7. Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim Says:

      The Kurier reports that cars were also burned in Brussels. The police deny any similarities to the riots in France (and they may be correct). No time to translate at the moment.

    8. Helen Says:

      Cars are always being burnt in Brussels. There are far more mini-riots there than is reported with the riot police out in force most week-ends. The problem with most Continental media is that it has been suppressing bad news for so long that reality, when appears, seems even worse than it is. We have been saying for some time that the European model is inherently unstable.

    9. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Melchior,

      there may be some isolated riots in Germany, too., but the rioters’ heart won’t in it like in France. The conditions just aren’t there.

      German police also are a lot less provocative and needlessly aggresive as their French counterparts.

    10. Mitch Says:

      I get the impression that a lot of the violence is opportunistic hell-raising. “Intifada” is overdoing it. There are a lot of comparisons to the ’60’s riots in the US (Watts, Detroit..) that I think are a better match.