Germans say French riots won't spread
BERLIN — The riots in France - as well as reports of car burnings in Belgium and Berlin over the weekend - are prompting European countries to focus anew on their own immigrant populations.
"We need to improve integration, especially that of the young people," said conservative politician Wolfgang Schäuble, tapped to be Germany's next interior minister, in the mass daily Bild. "Neighborhoods with large amounts of immigrants that increasingly shut themselves out of greater society have also developed here."
But Germany is not France, say officials here.
Federal investment in urban development here has sought to prevent living conditions like the densely populated and downtrodden neighborhoods where much of the French rioting has sprouted. An immigration law that came into effect this year increases funds for language and cultural programs that seek to better integrate the roughly 7 million Turkish, Eastern European, Asian, and African immigrants that have settled here.
"We have a much tighter net of state and economic support in Germany than in France," says Bernd Knopf, the spokesman for the country's immigration commissioner.
But that safety net may get thinner. German politicians have spent the past few weeks trying to close a 35 billion-euro budget deficit and to bring down unemployment. Roughly 25 percent (double the national average) of the Turkish community, by far the country's largest, is unemployed.
"One of the problems is that, as in France, the economic problems here affect the migrants and disadvantaged the most," says Cem Özdemir, a European parliamentarian and Germany's most prominent politician of Turkish descent. He says a lack of job training positions and education opportunities are creating a "ticking time bomb."
Lesser mobility makes it more likely that German immigrants will withdraw into "parallel societies" long lamented by sociologists and conservative politicians, say experts. Police cite an increase in crimes in heavily immigrant neighborhoods. "When will our warnings and those of teachers and social workers finally be taken seriously?" said police union director Konrad Freiberg in a statement.