German bid at multi-cultural society has failed: Merkel
Germany's attempts to create a multi-cultural society in which people from various cultural backgrounds live together peacefully have failed, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday.
"Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it," does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.
"This approach has failed, totally," she said.
Merkel spoke a week after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which they pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany's 2.5-million-strong Turkish community.
Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, CSU, told the same party meeting Friday that the two Union parties were "committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.
"'Multikulti' is dead," he said.
While warning against "immigration that weighs down on our social system", Merkel said that Germany needed specialists from overseas to keep the pace of its economic development.
According to the head of the German chamber of commerce and industry, Hans Heinrich Driftmann, Germany is in urgent need of about 400,000 engineers and qualified workers.
"The lack is causing a loss of growth of about one percent," he said in an interview.
Jewish leaders in Germany meanwhile warned that German society and democracy were under threat from extremists.
A recent expert study should prompt the government to act against antidemocratic ideas, the secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, told the Rheinpfalz am Sonntag weekly.
The study, by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank, showed that more than one third (34.3 percent) of those surveyed believed Germany's 16 million immigrants or people with foreign origins came to the country for the social benefits.
Around the same number (35.6 percent) think Germany is being "over-run by foreigners" and more than one in 10 called for a "Fuehrer" to run the country "with a strong hand".
Thirty-two percent of people said they agreed with the statement: "Foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce."
Far-right attitudes are found not only at the extremes of German society, but "to a worrying degree at the centre of society," the report noted.
More than half (58.4 percent) of the 2,411 people polled thought the around four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."
The integration of Muslims has been a hot button issue since August when a member of Germany's central bank sparked outrage by saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants with headscarves.
The banker, Thilo Sarrazin, has since resigned but his book on the subject -- "Germany Does Itself In" -- has flown off the shelves, and polls showed considerable sympathy for some of his views.
Kramer also criticised CSU leader Seehofer for ideas which he said were "not only petty but outright irresponsible" and slammed the current immigration debate as "hysterical".
© 2010 AFP