This week: Immigration and integration in Europe.
Nordic Muslims: Chilly reception?
The ongoing controversy surrounding the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed has focused attention on the region’s 500 thousand strong Muslim population. Scandinavia absorbed waves of European immigrants in the 1950’s and 60’s, but numerous studies have concluded that the region has stumbled in its attempts to integrate non-European immigrants, particularly those from the Muslim world.
Ban the Burqa?
To an aspect of integration that’s already caused consternation in Belgium... and now the Netherlands is considering it too: namely, a proposal to ban women from wearing the burqa. The Dutch government is currently deciding whether to make it a crime to wear this traditional Islamic dress, following calls by the Dutch parliament to implement the policy as soon as possible.
Over the past decade, most EU member states have strengthened their policies regarding asylum, to the extent that the continent is often referred to as “Fortress Europe”. France is no exception. In a report published this week, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Alvaro Gil Robles, criticised the way the French authorities treat people seeking refugee status. He says that new stringent rules and procedures risk stigmatising asylum seekers.
Are some newcomers more equal than others?
Integration has again become a hot political topic in Germany. The debate has been fuelled by the current cartoon controversy. But what sparked the current discussion was last year’s race riots in neighbouring France. Recent developments in Germany include a controversial test just for Muslims who are applying for German citizenship and a rule in one school that only German should be spoken in the schoolyard.
When emigration switches to immigration..
Under communism Czechoslovakia was a country of emigration rather than immigration. Particularly after the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, when an estimated 75,000 people left the country. But since the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic has increasingly become a destination for immigrants. Official figures from 2004 show that 2.5 percent of the country’s inhabitants are immigrants, more than double the figure a decade earlier. So how has the Czech Republic responded? Professor Albert-Peter Rethmann of Charles University’s Centre for Migration Studies says policy in this area needs to be improved.
Closing Music – Ebony and Ivory: Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder