In Germany nobody seems to be concerned about the problem of immigration anymore. Expressing the slightest worry about the possibility of integration of many young men from a very different culture is regarded as a sign of unequivocal backwardness, possible grave mental deficiencies and dangerous and intolerable political leanings. Not even the sexual assualts of Cologne on New Year’s Eve changed much.Arab immigrants were handed leaflets where they were given precise instructions on how to behave with German women, it was explained to them that if a woman was wearing shorts it did not mean that she was willing to enjoy an immediate sexual encounter and the problem was solved.
Now in the aftermath of a bloody week of at least four violent episodes committed by perpetrators with a Muslim background, some people are beginning to express doubts even in the public sphere. It had become common place to dismiss any criticism of the Merkel’s open border policy as racist and basically Neonazi. When the other day the leader of the German party DIE LINKE (the former Communist Party) Sarah Wagenknecht dared to criticise Merkel’s overly optimistic “Wir schaffen das” (“We can do it!”) parole in a Facebook post, she was furiously attacked, with some people from her own party asking for her to step down and some newspapers accosting her to the nationalist and conservative party Alternative für Deutschland, which generally serves well as the scoundrel and a projection for all that might be wrong with Germany’s own customs and history if Germany did not embark on the globalist path.
Angela Merkel’s decision, in autumn 2014, to grant asylum to all Syrian refugees who somehow made it to Germany, promised to be a turning point in German history, and could become a turning point for the history of the whole of Europe too. Germany was now a welcoming, humane and open nation, and not only a welcoming, humane and open nation, but the most welcoming, the most humane and the most open of nations. Germany was stretching his hand to refugees, while other countries, like France or the UK, not to speak of the backward, nationalist Eastern European lands of Poland and Hungary, were deeply discomforted by the uncontrolled inflow of Muslim immigrants.
It all came of course as a little bit of a surprise of course to the people who had been paying attention to the realities of German life: less than 4 years before the same woman had resolutedly declared that “Der Multikulti ist gescheitert, absolut gescheitert”, the multicultural model had failed, failed completely. Now that sounds like a long long time ago. In a bit more than 1000 days, Angela Merkel had gone from there to saying that “Islam belongs to Germany”. Of course the ongoing Syrian civil war, the Libyan anarchy after the removal of Gaddafi and the emergency of ISIS created a whole new set of circumstances, and as hundred of thousands fled their countries and tried to find refugee in Europe and many of the them tragically paid with their lives drowning in the Mediterranean. Here however the whole government philosophy with regards to immigration seemed to have changed dramatically. Immigrants were seen as a problem before. Now immigrants are seen as a resource. Now there were crowds of people with “Refugees welcome” signs welcoming the trains with immigrants finally coming to the stations in Munich or other German towns. It was no light task, but it looked like Germany had embarked on a lonely and brave path to save the world from evil.
And this is one of the problems I have seen: sometimes the refugees crisis seemed to be more about Germany than about the refugees themselves. Some people saw it as an opportunity for Germany to become finally a contemporary multicultural global nation. Yet in spite of the the welcoming crowds at the train station, I have some doubts regarding the middle term and long term prospects of success in terms of immigration. For example, Germany was already a multi ethnic countries, inhabited by many different people, although it lacked the grandeur of a colonial past and it did not have immigrants moving from the colonies to the homeland when the empire collapsed, like it has been the case in Britain or France. But it has a large Turkish population. Turks started to come to Germany in the 50’s already at the invitation of the German government, when there was need for cheap labour. By now many young “Turks” have been born in Germany and you would expect them to be very well integrated in German society. Some people argue that because in the German national football team there are players like Khedira and Boateng, and everybody loves the German football national Mannschaft, even those who pretend not to care about football, then integration has been successful and is not a problem at all. However the opposite seems to be the case: immigrants from Muslim countries tend to live in big cities and in segregated neighborhoods, where Turks live side-to-side only with the poorest and most hopeless that German society can produce (generally other immigrants). Young Turks do not go the bars where young Germans would go and they prefer to hang out in their shisha lounge with their (generally only male) friends. After many years in Germany, I still have to see a young Turkish woman with a German boyfriend, although I have heard there have been some cases. I attended a German university in Berlin for almost three years and I think I can count the number of Turkish young men I have seen there on a single hand.
You may argue the Turks had bad luck and that they came in large enough numbers so there was little desire on their side and little need to integrate, of becoming part of German society. Now in spite of the triumphant calls by some in the media for the refugees as “the New Germans” (the Economist even went so far as to write that Germans saw in the Muslim refugees a braver projection of themselves, because these people instead of enjoying the comfort of a boring occupation took risks to improve their lives), I had little reason to see how this should go a different way now. The Turks, like the Greeks and the Italians, came to Germany specifically to work and to exercise the most menial of labours, particularly when the demand for labour was high because so many men had perished in the war and the country was in ruins. Many refugees have come on the promise of a better future to escape their wretched lands. They want to go to university, many were students in their country. I have seen medical students and engineers among them, but I have read that the figure of people with some degree of high education is around 10%. Meanwhile I have noticed it is become very easy to find hashish in my Berlin neighborhood, thanks to a group of ten or so men, young and not so young, who work the street 24/7 and supply hungry customers close to the metro station at all times of the day (they are from Libya by the way, and one of them had lived in Italy for many years, but a few months ago he decided to move to Germany, for whatever reason).
Now the flood of refugees has certainly receded since last year agreement between the European Union and Turkey for more effective border controls. I don’t know how many of the one million and more Muslim immigrants who made it to Germany in 2015 alone will eventually decide to stay here in the long term (I suspect, the large majority). But it is not like Germans and Arabs are going to be just a big crew of friends. When they opened their borders, Germans wanted to show the world they had become an open and tolerant society. They were expecting to me meet people just like us, who they were helping seeking refuge from terrorism and dictatorship, those two barbaric phenomenons. They were expecting young intelligent modern and tolerant people who professed to love freedom more than Allah and spoke fluent English. Well, now some of my friends, like Angela Merkel, have started to post selfies of them posing with some bearded refugees and thought they had established a connection with them after exchanging a few words in broken English. I am afraid one day, not too far from now, the “Refugees welcome” fashion will be “oh-so-2015” and people will get back to their normal lives. Some of them will look back at some pictures and remember that time they exchanged a few words in English with their Syrian or Afghan “friend”. German TV will continue to invite to their talk shows young Iranians who after one year in Germany speak fluently German, accent free, and who are embracing the technical vocation training that German manufacturers so desperately need but that young Germans do not seem to be very interested in pursuing. The violent attacks of the last days will be forgotten and they had nothing to do with Islam anyway, because they were rather the isolated actions of some loose lunatic. But, I am told, the point of tolerance is not integration, it is diversity instead. I am told there is nothing wrong with people living their entire lives in separated ethnic communities coexisting peacefully side by side, and that expecting integration means supposing a dominant culture, but the sole assumption of a dominant culture constitutes a thought crime in itself. I suspect this might be utter drivel. But I am giving the multicultural paradise and island of peace, justice and tolerance that Germany might soon become time to prove me wrong.
PS Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if Germany had a Black Chancellor one day?