…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.”