I am not for the first time writing on behalf of the immigrant community to Germany, as the daughter of a Greek immigrant in Germany. On October 21st of 2010 I posted a "note to Angela Merkel" wondering about her statement that multiculturalism has apparently failed in Germany. With her testimony Germany's chancellor was supporting, hopefully inadvertently, an overall growing European sentiment that has become even more hostile towards cultural and religious differences.
The recent discovery of a decade-long serial murder plot by three Neo Nazis in Germany shocks the German nation and with it the entire world.
I wonder why?
Very conveniently the events of 9/11 in the US and its subsequent global hysteria have been misused to manifest a pseudo European-Christian superiority that has found its main target in Islam. Islam simply being in many cases the most current scapegoat for "the other."
Obviously hate doesn't differentiate much, and a dangerous climate of wide-ranging xenophobia seems to be establishing itself in many places in Europe. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the world's largest regional security organization based in Warsaw, Poland presented a report in 2006 which stated a significant increase in hate crimes against black Africans, Romani groups, Jews, Muslims, and gays all over Europe.
The killing spree by white Christian supremacist Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo paralyzed the international community in July this year. Meanwhile, far right-wing politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and former fascist leader Benito Mussolini's granddaughter Alessandra in Italy hold seats in their respective parliaments.
Wilders' Party for Freedom is the third-largest faction in the Netherlands House of Representatives and his claim to fame is not only the headline, "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam," but also the production of the movie Fitna. It has created international controversy by attempting to demonstrate that the Qur'an motivates its followers to hate all who violate Islamic teachings.
Wilders was banned from entering the United Kingdom between 12 February 2009 and 13 October 2009 by the Labour government, the Home Office saying his presence would be "a threat to one of the fundamental interests of society," which would be religious pluralism as an element of democracy. The ban was overturned after Wilders appealed and he visited the UK in October 2009, and again in March 2010, to show his film.
In January 2009, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered Wilders' prosecution for "incitement to hatred and discrimination." Wilders was acquitted of these charges on 23rd of June 2011.
Alessandra Mussolini is the founder and former leader of the Italian national conservative political party Social Action, and since 2008 has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian Parliament, for the ruling People of Freedom party. She made enhanced appearances on the political scene in 2011 expressing displeasure with the growing number of Libyan refugees trying to enter Europe via the Italian island Lampedusa and has been repeatedly trying to correct her Grandfather's image from the past. "Until recently the word fascist was considered shameful. Fortunately, that period has passed. In fact, there is now a reassessment of how much grandpa Benito did for Italy," Mussolini told Newsweek in 1992.
It comes as no real surprise that Germany also has its homemade oddballs. One strong candidate is Thilo Sarrazin and in 2010 Thilo, the politician felt appointed to publish a book titled Germany Abolishes Itself. Thilo's book is a hodgepodge of dim, hateful statements, unworthy of attention and a true embarrassment for a member of the Social Democratic Party which is traditionally slightly more open-minded than Merkel's Christian Democratic Party. In an ongoing rant he denounces the failure of Germany's post-war immigration policy, sparking a nationwide controversy about the costs and benefits of multiculturalism.
Integration requires effort from those who are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone that is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children, and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls. This holds true for 70 percent of the Turkish and 90 percent of the Arab population in Berlin.
Not only does the Social Democratic Party not exclude Thilo from membership, his book, published at the end of August 2010, became the most highly sold book on politics by a German-language author in a decade, with overall sales hitting 1.1 million copies. The first editions sold out within a matter of days.
Thilo's clumsy statement in an interview with the German paper Welt am Sonntag that, "all Jews share a certain gene like all Basques share a certain gene that distinguishes these from other people," doesn't really help anyone take him any more seriously.
As mentioned above, in October of 2010 Chancellor Merkel happily jumped on the bandwagon and declared multiculturalism as a failed experiment, obviously neglecting the fact that Germany invited the foreign workers into its home in the late 60's, true to the motto that no German shall soil their hands through inferior labor.
At the same time Germany's prestigious Friedrich-Ebert foundation is releasing its biyearly (!) study of "Right Extremism in Germany," according to which every tenth German is longing for the guidance of a Fuehrer and every third would like to send foreigners back to wherever they came from.
For the first time, the authors also inquired about the sentiments Germans are nourishing towards Muslims. 58.4% percent of interviewees agree the practice of Islam in Germany should be considerably constrained.
And not surprisingly, since anti-Semitism has been a steady companion in Germany, although some right extreme organizations now claim to embrace Judaism and prefer hating Islam, 17% of respondents also believe that "Jews still have too much influence."
Right extremist attacks, xenophobia, the diligent building of neo Nazi networks in East and West Germany are old news, numerous studies have been released, but disturbing political sentiment toward the unfamiliar that is sometimes positioned in the heart of society has the potential to catalyze those efforts.
Who would be seriously bewildered by the effect this mix of toxic attitudes has as a result?