Chancellor Angela Merkel’s declaration that Germany’s attempts to build a multicultural society had “utterly failed” is feeding a growing debate over how to deal with the millions of foreigners who call the country home.
Merkel told a meeting of young members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union that while immigrants are welcome in Germany, they must learn the language and accept the country’s cultural norms – sounding a note heard increasingly across Europe as it battles an economic slump and worries about homegrown terrorism.
“This multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and live happily with each other has failed. Utterly failed,” Merkel said.
Merkel’s comments were met with applause by the more conservative members of her party, but some Germans in cosmopolitan Berlin argued Sunday she was out of touch with the country’s daily life.