Foreign Policy

Germany's Merkel to Immigrants: Learn German, Accept Christian Values

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened up a religious and cultural can of worms, saying Muslims in her country should adopt Christian values.

 

Merkel made her first comments this weekend on a debate that has been waging in Germany since August, when a central bank board member said the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim immigrants.

Speaking to younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, Merkel said "Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it," does not work.

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"This approach has failed, totally," she said. "We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here."

Merkel also said all immigrants should learn to speak German, saying Germany has the right to "make demands" on them.

About four million Muslims live in Germany -- 2.5 million of them from Turkey. Merkel met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, and pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Turkish immigrants in Germany.

The comments certainly won't help that integration. However, Turkish President Abdullah Gul does agree that Turks living in Germany should learn German.

"When one doesn't speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn't serve anyone, neither the person concerned, the country, nor the society," the Turkish president told the newspaper Suedeutsche Zeitung. "That is why I tell them at every opportunity that they should learn German, and speak it fluently and without an accent. That should start at nurseries."

A recent study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank showed around one-third of Germans feel the country is being "over-run by foreigners" and the same percentage feel foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce.

Nearly 60% of the respondents thought Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."