Europe’s secularism has failed, Mrs Merkel, not simply multiculturalism
At the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a speech attacking multiculturalism saying it , “has failed, utterly” and she also criticised ‘immigrants’ for failing to integrate and embrace German values. Last week she spoke about Islam and Muslims in Germany saying German Culture “is based on Christian and Jewish values and has been for hundreds of years” and that “the values represented by Islam must correspond with our constitution”.
She also said immigrants must accept Western values saying: “We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity, that is what defines us. Those who do not accept this are in the wrong place here.”
Any objective observer cannot but question the Christian and Jewish values deemed to be the bedrock of secular capitalist Europe. One would think that secularism means separation between church and state!!
Merkel’s statements speak volumes about the hypocrisy of western secularism and political institutions which supposedly champion the cause of ‘human rights’ and ‘freedoms’ only to deny them to fellow Muslims!!
She speaks against the backdrop of rising European Xenophobia, particularly against Muslims but also others including Roma gypsies.
Merkel’s admission that multiculturalism has failed is an indictment of Germany and its secular system – and not the multiculturalism that is purported to respect the values and culture of minorities. Her comments also highlight the weakness of these values and a double standard in the west, where they preach freedom of thought and expression, but insist it must correspond with western beliefs.
But the problem is wider than Merkel’s criticisms of multiculturalism. She, like others in Europe, including Britain’s Conservative Party, seems to want to follow a more aggressive assimilation strategy like in France.
Yet in France this week a woman (a retired teacher) in her 60’s is in court for assaulting a Muslim woman pulling off her veil. The aggressive assimilation model may play to the base instincts of the mob, but is no recipe for societal harmony and mutual respect.
Such increasingly frequent comments by European leaders are an indication that having failed to convince Muslims and others to westernise through force of argument and they now wish to bully and coerce minorities – especially Muslims into adopting western values.
One would have thought that in Germany, of all places, the use of xenophobia for political expediency would be seen as a dangerous way forward.
Secular Europe does indeed face a dilemma. Germany needs 400,000 skilled workers. Yet Merkel admits immigrants have not been convinced by western values even when living and working in the west.
The presence of millions of Muslims who live in Europe, but who are increasingly confident in their Islamic values, has forced European leaders to question their own failings – which style of assimilation they use. They worry that this young community is growing at a faster pace, and is unified around a distinct set of Islamic values and in the future, according to their democratic principles, this community’s voice and values would be represented in society. Hence, they resort to belligerent actions that violate their own values on pluralism and even human rights – inventing security fears in order to oppress this community into submission.
Islam, when it existed in a state until 1924, obliged its citizens of all creeds and races to obey the law of the land, based on shariah. It did not compel the citizens who were not Muslim to adopt the Islamic faith and profess that Islamic values were the truth revealed by Allah (swt) to His Messenger (saw). Yet western countries increasingly bully and compel Muslims to not merely obey the law, but to declare they feel western laws and values are superior. History is the best witness to the true tolerance shown by Islam and Muslims to their fellow non Muslims community members across centuries and countless places from Andalusia to Turkestan to the African sahara.
Once again, the west has proved the weakness and fragility of its own system, and its inability to treat its minorities with respect.
One wonders what is next: another secular inquisition to spill the blood of Muslims?
It is little wonder that people in the Muslim world are seeing ever more clearly the illusion of freedom and democracy dissolving in front of their eyes.