Melting pot society has failed, says Merkel
Published 18/10/2010 | 05:00
Germany's attempts to build a post-war multicultural society have "utterly failed", the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.
She broke a long-standing taboo in Germany to address the immigration issue in a speech at Potsdam near Berlin.
Mrs Merkel told a meeting of the youth wing of her party at the weekend: "Multikulti is the concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it. This approach has failed, utterly."
She spoke days after a poll showed that a third of all Germans viewed immigrants as welfare cheats.
Mrs Merkel said: "We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity, that is what defines us. Those who do not accept this are in the wrong place here."
She added: "Germans should also talk about their values and their increasing alienation from religion, in order to affirm their sense of country and society."
Immigrants who did choose to live in Germany should adapt and learn German as "quickly as possible".
Mindful of the legacy of World War Two and racial policies that cost millions their lives, German politicians have tended only to speak in broad positive terms of the "multikulti" society.
The ratcheting up in the political tone, allied with fears among Germans about unemployment and loss of identity, prompted a warning from Jewish leaders that democracy was under threat.
The government should act against anti-democratic ideas, Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told a newspaper yesterday.
He said the debate about immigration was making people "uneasy and scared".
"All possible cultural circles are being stigmatised, defamed and tarred with the same brush. I find it on the one hand irresponsible and on the other, shabby," Mr Kramer said.
Meanwhile, a survey showed a majority of Swiss voters will back a proposal to deport foreign criminals in national referendum next month.
The poll found 62pc of voters favour expelling foreigners found guilty of serious offences or illegally obtaining welfare benefits. (© Daily Telegraph, London)