Migrants versus culture

As native populations decline, in some cases [Japan] catastrophically, they are being replaced in the industrial countries’ workforce by immigrants with totally different cultures.

The long-term question, for which there is presently no answer, is will the carefully cultivated complex European cultures which have given so much to the world, survive this infusion.

Demographic predictions are notoriously subject misinterpretation and short-term movements can be interpreted as the long-term perspective.

Germany could be the most dramatic example of the phenomenon.

But experts estimate that in ten years there will be a shortage of at least three million skilled workers in Germany, otherwise its economic growth will slow if not collapse. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s has a new immigration law designed for workers from outside the European Union to find jobs in Germany. The legislation would simplify the process for recognizing foreign vocational training degrees after eliminating the requirement that employers check whether German nationals are available. It would give temporary residence permits to qualified non-EU German-speakers to live in the country while they search for work.

Germany is already the second most popular migration destination in the world, after the United States. It has the second highest percentage of immigrants after the United Kingdom. And by UN estimates, [2017] 12,165,083 people living in Germany are immigrants — about 14.8 percent of the total population.

In the aftermath of World War II 12 million ethnic German refugees, so-called “Heimatvertriebene” (“homeland displaced persons”) were forced into the two Germanies because of changing borderlines. Due to the labor shortage during the Wirtschaftswunder (“economic miracle”) in the 1950s and ’60s, the West German government signed agreements with Italy, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Yugoslavia allowing recruitment of so-called Gastarbeiter [guest workers] with few qualifications. Children born to Gastarbeiter received Aufenthaltsberechtigung (“right of residence”). but were not granted citizenship. Many of the descendants of those Gastarbeiter ultimately have acquired German citizenship.

Claims and counterclaims of whether immigrants disproportionately commit crime are unresolved in Germany as elsewhere in Europe. But it is true that federal authorities have largely failed to provide sufficient resistance to ethnic organized crime gangs (German: Clankriminalität) for fear of being charged with discrimination against minorities. In 2018, the Wall Street Journal found that foreigners, overall 12.8 percent of the German population, made up 34.7 pecent of criminal suspects.

Profitable activities of Arab clans have been noted as contributing to organized criminal activity with Chechens, Albanians, Kosovars have mimicked these clan-based gangs. In a German society with maximum personal freedom [by European standards] clans serve people who want to live in peace under the protection of the state. On the other hand, clans may not recognize the rule of law.

Latest Federal Statistical Office figures show that almost every fourth child born in Germany in 2016 had a foreign mother. Female immigrants are indeed contributing significantly to the fact that Germany’s birth rate is rising again. Already today, one out of five people living in the country has immigrant roots.

Economists and politicians are fond of emphasizing the positive aspects of this development – Germany’s aging society, for example, has been a negative political issue for decades. But there’s also a large segment of society that is less than pleased; people ask what their heimat, or homeland, will look like in 10, 20 or 30 years. Some fear that Merkel allows migrants to come to Germany for asylum rather actively seeking to bring in highly skilled workers. It’s a policy that permits even those whose asylum applications are rejected ultimately to stay.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in recent remarks said that Islam doesn’t belong to Germany. The argument is that Islam while a religious concept in the Abrahamic tradition, also proposes to establish a parallel authoritarian or totalitarian state.

That’s why the issue of 4.7 million Muslims who call Germany home increasingly cannot be ignored nor the attempt of many of these Germany-born to integrate into its society. The presence of at least one mosque in almost every large city in Germany attests to the growing influence of some aspects of Islam.

Polls show that large segments of the German population agree with Seehofer. “Islam doesn’t belong to Germany”, a way of expressing discomfort with ways in which the country is changing. Cornelia Koppetsch, a professor of sociology at the Technical University of Darmstadt, argues that politicians who have sought to “create a sense of community within their political camps” ultimately ended up promoting “rampant feelings of rootlessness.”

German culture has always enjoyed such symbolic debates; for example, the constant argument over whether to ban the burqa [Muslim women’s veil], even though very few women in Germany actually wear them. These discussions serve largely to provide supporters with a vehicle to express that tolerance has gone far enough. The CSU has now formally promised that the country will remain one shaped by Judeo-Christian traditions. At the same time, though, it’s also true that membership in Christian churches has been shrinking for years; in 2016 alone, 350,000 people left German churches.

As churches close in many places, Muslims are building new mosques – or even more aggravating, they are taking over buildings that are otherwise empty. For example, in Hamburg’s Horn neighborhood, the Islamic community is in the process of converting a former church into a mosque with the help of funding from Kuwait. The church had been empty for more than 16 years with its members having died, left the church or moved. Nobody is being pushed out. And although it provides the Muslim community with a convenient opportunity some non-Muslim Germans see the conversion as ominously symbolic.



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