Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New Approach to Integration in Germany: "Perhaps We Should Learn Turkish"

This shocking interview with the psychologist Thomas von Stosch appeared in the German newspaper "Heilbronner Stimme".
Heilbronner Stimme: What mistakes were made in the 60s from today’s perspective?

Von Stosch: At that time people actually did not think about how living together should be arranged and how the immigrants could feel at home here. For a people immigration means opening themselves up to the immigrants. But up to now it’s noticeable how difficult it is to welcome someone from another culture and especially to consider them equals.

To what extent is integration adaptation?

It’s necessary to distinguish between different migration processes. Whoever immigrates wants to feel at home here; that includes adapting themselves. He or she wants to live according to the rules of their new home and accept its customs. Immigrants assimilate and consciously give up something of their old ways.

This behaviour does not correspond to what a large number of migrants are living. Why?

For many migrants it’s not about immigration, but rather a process of migration of peoples that is taking place. The conflicts with many Turkish citizens can only be understood from this perspective. In a migration of peoples people remain connected to their homeland. They take their people with them and look for a new place for themselves. They don’t assimilate, but expect that their way of life, their language and their culture can develop in the new country, that is to say Germany.

Your thesis provokes objections because normally it’s expected of immigrants that they will adapt a bit. So is learning German not a necessity?

This demand is part of the old model, which is: go to school, learn German, be good, then all problems are solved. This fails to take into account the fact that the migration of Turkish people to Germany is a historical movement that is nowhere near complete. So sometime there will be Turkish schools and universities. The process can no longer be reversed; on the contrary, in Europe we are just at its beginning. We must consent to this development. Until that happens, understanding will not work. And only when we consent can we shape the process. I am certain it will generate something completely new..

Are we Germans then required to make room and accept parallel societies?

Migration was never discussed in terms of the migration of peoples, only in terms of immigration and adjustment. But we must engage with those who do not want to immigrate. Perhaps we need to start learning Turkish. The migration of peoples demands a lot of everyone involved. It’s about co-existence on the basis of equality. And accepting other people as equals, leaving them as they are, and granting them the same rights, that is a real challenge. For example, that a muezzin should be able to call in the mornings in the same way that church bells ring.
Source: PI

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