250 years of integration vs debate over Muslims in Germany
Percy MacLean can call on 250 years of experience to weigh up how immigrants integrate in Germany. Since his Scottish ancestor arrived in 1753, the family has produced mayors, members of parliament and even a Nazi.
Today, the 63-year-old MacLean, a chief judge in Berlin’s administrative court, says Germany risks losing the openness that allowed his family to flourish for generations because of a divisive national debate over the integration of Muslims.
(Photo: Percy MacLean at his office in Berlin November 25, 2010/Tobias Schwarz)
In an interview with Reuters, MacLean said tendentious arguments now being aired publicly contained the seeds of what could spawn the kind of right-wing populism and xenophobia Germany witnessed in the run-up to the Holocaust.
Muslims have been in the media spotlight since central banker Thilo Sarrazin stirred up a row this autumn by asserting Turkish and Arab families were dumbing down Germany, swamping it with a higher birth rate and threatening the indigenous culture.
“Things can get very explosive once you start mentioning genes and intelligence,” MacLean said. “Talking down to them is totally wrong. We are the ones who invited them over here.”