The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Ibrahim Kalin is senior advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. This article first appeared in Today’s Zaman in Istanbul and is reprinted with its permission.
By Ibrahim Kalin
Has multiculturalism run its course in Europe? If one takes a picture of certain European countries today and freezes it, that would be the logical conclusion.
The European right is thriving on anti-immigrant attitudes and is likely to continue to reap the benefits in the short term. But there are forces that are sure to keep multiculturalism alive whether we like it or not. (Photo: A banner for the European Union’s 50th anniversary, in Berlin March 22, 2007/Arnd Wiegmann)
Take Germany as an example. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said bluntly that Germany has failed to integrate large immigrant communities. The complaint is that most Turks and Muslims who came to Germany in the 1960s to jumpstart the German economy after World War II have not integrated into German society. They kept their language, religion and most of their cultural habits. Instead of blending in, they created their own parallel societies.
But is it logical to conclude that multiculturalism is dead because certain European countries have failed to integrate their minority communities? First of all, what some European countries present as multicultural policies have very little to do with multiculturalism. Again Germany is a case in point. German governments welcomed Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish workers in the 1950s and 1960s and treated them as “guest workers.” But it never occurred to them that these so-called guest workers were also human beings with social and familial needs just like any other people. As a result, the German governments made very little or no effort in creating a social and political environment for them to integrate.