Minister: One in 10 migrants unwilling to integrate into Germany
Deutsche Presse Agentur
Sep 8, 2010, 12:28 GMT
Berlin – One in 10 migrants to Germany is unwilling to integrate, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday, as the cabinet approved a federal integration programme.
But, compared with other nations 'this figure is by no means bad,' he said of the 10 to 15 per cent of foreigners in Germany resisting efforts to integrate.
Last week, central banker Thilo Sarrazin sparked off a heated debate in Germany when he published a book blaming Islam for the poor integration of Muslims.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved an integration programme, bringing together a range of federal, state and communal measures aimed at helping migrants settle in Germany.
De Maiziere said language skills were key to integration – the earlier in life, the better. He said that 1.1 million migrants spoke insufficient German.
'We should discuss the issue of integration objectively, truthfully and fairly,' the minister said.
Nevertheless, the minister said integration courses, running since 2005, had been a success. In total, he said 600,000 people had taken part in the classes on German history, society and the legal system , as well as attending 600 language lessons each.
Albert Schmid, the head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, said that de facto immigration to Germany was minimal, contrary to popular impression.
'Perceived immigration is far higher than actual immigration,' Schmid said, adding that migration figures rose by fewer than 100,000 people annually. Most of those were people joining family already living in Germany.
For this reason, Schmid said a key challenge was to integrate people who had already lived in the country for several decades.
De Maiziere rejected the conclusion presented by Sarrazin that there was something inherent in Islam which prevented immigration, but said a similar debate was taking place amongst Muslim communities.
As an example of the issues discussed by Muslims within a state- funded Islam Conference, de Maiziere asked, 'Is the unequal treatment of women, by men, something connected to culture, tradition and class, or is it part of Islam?'
This, the minister added as an aside, had been a long-standing issue within the Christian churches in Europe.
Schmid stressed that there were great differences in integration between Muslim migrants from different countries, and said that people arriving from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan fared far better than Turkish migrants.
In addition, he said it was wrong to identify this as a Muslim problem.
'I don't want to negatively buttonhole our Italian friends, but the results from southern Europe are particularly bad,' Schmid said. Studies had also shown that Italian migrants had huge problems learning German, he said.