Germany’s Ethnic Dilemma. Alarm Bell Rings in Cologne

Germany’s Ethnic Dilemma. Alarm Bell Rings in Cologne

In ancient Rome they used to say that the one who has not seen Cologne has not seen Germany. It has become relevant again. Mass unrests took place on Sunday, October 26, in the biggest city of the largest German land. It showed that immigration has become the most burning issue for the country. 

According to official data, around 16 million out of 80 are either immigrants or were born to immigrant parents.

In 2000 Germany adopted a new citizenship and nationality law based on jus soli (the place of birth). 

Many people came from other German cities to take place in the protests. North Rhine-Westphalia is the land with the largest Turkish population (over a million). Founded by Romans Cologne has become a home for Turkish immigrants. It was included into the itinerary of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan when he visited Turkey this May. 18 thousand gathered in in Cologne's Lanxess Arena, the local stadium, to hear him speak. The very same flags they greeted Erdogan with are seen on the pictures of the October 26 mass violence. The protest started with the calls to fight Salafism but the event mirrored the attitude of Germans towards foreigners in general and Muslims in particular. The ethnic issue (or the problem of multiculturalism) is something that stands in the way and waters down the West’s ideology. 

Thilo Sarrazin is the only German politician who discomfits Germans with his blunt take on what he thinks ails them. He exposed his views in the book Germany Is Abolishing Itself (or Germany Is Doing Away With Itself) that saw light in 2010. The author was ostracized by German elite. Sarrazin’s views cost him the job on the board of Bundesbank and nearly got him kicked out of the Social Democratic Party. What’s wrong with the book based on solid factual base and numerous statistics that nobody of critics has so far put into doubt? Sarrazin said that in case current social, educational and immigration policy continues and there is no justified will to preserve the nation then Germany is doomed in near future. By 2020 other nations than Germans will account for 20% of Berlin’s population and 40% of the people living in Cologne. By 2100 there will be only 20 million of Germans and 35 million of Muslims. 

At present the Berlin’s immigration policy has resulted in the emergence of so called parallel societies where the native population and immigrants live in separate (parallel) worlds. In Germany this phenomenon has been taking place for dozens of years but the conversion of ethnic Germans into Islam, often in its radical form, is something new. 

The immigrants from Muslim countries are not prone to integrate into the German society. That’s what Sarrazin writes about in his book. Helmut Kohl admitted the fact in early 1980s (though it applied to Portuguese and Italians and was said at a secret meeting). 

Note: These words were spoken during a meeting between Chancellor Helmut Kohl and then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The British archive with the conversation was declassified in 2013. 

Turks moved to Germany as a result of an inter-government agreement between Berlin and Ankara concluded in 1961. Those days many West European states (Great Britain, Belgium and France) needed labor force, so they started to invite people from former colonies. Germany had no colonies and chose Turkey for the purpose. Since a long time the both countries had mutual sympathy. The experiment happened to be a failure. As experience has shown, for instance in Germany and Bulgaria, Turks are not prone to assimilation. Back in history socialist Bulgaria tried to find a solution to the problem of Turkish minority (unlike Turks in Germany, it was autochthonic there) with the help of stick and carrot policy. Georgi Dimitrov provided Turks with vast opportunities for developing their culture. Since late 1950s the Bulgaria’s policy abruptly changed: Turkish schools were closed, newspapers banned. It went as far as to make hundreds of thousands people of Turkish origin change their names so that they would sound Bulgarian. Then the Turkish language was banned in public places and the religious practices were restrained. It all was futile - the attempts to assimilate Turks have ended up in failure. Today the Turkish National Movement for Rights and Freedoms plays an important role in Bulgarian national politics. 

In a way Helmut Kohl was right when he wanted to expel every second Turk out of the country. It is still not clear what prevented him from doing so. After the unification Germany absorbed the practically mono-ethnic eastern part, but it did not make the whole country more German. 

Note: Sorbs (Lusatian Sorbs or Lusatian Serbs, a Western Slavic people of Central Europe living predominantly in Lusatia, a region on the territory of Germany and Poland. Back in history Sorbs were a big nation. Their population has been reduced but it has never been assimilated. Sorbs (with the population of a bit over 100 thousand people) were the only ethnic minority in the east of contemporary Germany. 

To the contrary the ethnic composition of population has become more heterogeneous as a result of two waves of migration; the first came from the counties that were part of the former Soviet Union while the second was dominated by refugees asking for political asylum. The latter significantly added to the Muslim community. 

One needs the boldness and high reputation of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to openly say that Turks want no assimilation. Incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel simply recognizes that the attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have «utterly failed». She just admits the fact, that’s all. In October 2010 former President Christian Wulff has declared that Islam «belongs to Germany» to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification. Angela Merkel has never said the opposite. The only man to publicly oppose Mr. Wulff was then Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, the current deputy chairman of the centre-right Bundestag faction made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union (CSU). He rejected the calls for Islam to be recognized as a part of the German way of life and insisted that it "does not belong" in Germany. While Interior Minister Friedrich increased control over the Left Party standing for broad integration of immigrants into the society and right-wing radicals – irreconcilable opponents of immigration. Today this policy is implemented by the federal government even after the events in Cologne. 

The situation is complicated. The special services have been constantly warning recently about the threat of right-wing radicalism (a synonym of Salafism in the contemporary Germany). 

As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on October 25 1800 men, not 400 as reported officially, left Germany to join the Islamic State.

After the tough fighting in Cologne Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière warned about a serious threat to internal security posed by Islamic extremists. Jörg Zierke, the head of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office, says 225 alleged extremists are under surveillance now. Their number was 80-90 a few years ago. There are 420 cases being investigated with 500 people charged. 

Against this background Islamophobia in Germany is on the rise… The majority supports the Syria bombings, no matter normally 60-80% of Germans oppose the idea of intervention in other countries. The German society is by and large divided in half on the need of providing refuge to Syrian refugees. The government ostentatiously refuses the helping hand stretched from the right wing forces, for instance, militant Salafists, and from the left, the forces like, for instance, the Left Party. The local branch of the Left Party organized a demonstration in response to the anti-Salafist march in Cologne. Special services call for more vigilance and civil responsibility; they want people to inform police about the activities of relatives, colleagues and neighbors who espouse radical views. It is planned to ease the regulations related to expulsion of non-citizens. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has said no more permissions will be granted to organize protests like the recent ones in Cologne. It should be noted that the HoGeSa (Hooligans against Salafists), a soccer fans anti-Islam movement, was behind the Cologne events. For the first time it took part in a political action. According to media reports, many of hooligans were drunk and behaved aggressively. At that, the right wing party that joined the demonstration says the protests were peaceful till a provocative march to counter the action took place. There have been two foiled attempts to ban the ultra-right National-Democratic Party of Germany: it surfaced during the court sessions that many party leaders were special services informants. 

Meanwhile the federal government is trying to instill the idea of strengthening special services. It puts special emphasis on developing ties with the US counterparts. Of course, the security of Germans is the prime reason for the implementation of these plans. 

Tags: Germany  Middle East  Turkey 

RELATED ARTICLES