(from Agence France Presse News, AFP) PARIS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Thursday that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or ex-leaders who have condemned it.
“My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure,” he said in a television interview when asked about the policy which advocates that host societies welcome and foster distinct cultural and religious immigrant groups.
“Of course we must all respect differences, but we do not want… a society where communities coexist side by side.
“If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France,” the…president said.
“The French national community cannot accept a change in its lifestyle, [a lifestyle which includes] equality between men and women… freedom for little girls to go to school,” he said.
“We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him,” Sarkozy said in the TFI channel show.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s ex-prime minister John Howard and Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar have also recently said multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants.
Merkel in October said efforts towards multiculturalism in Germany had “failed, totally.” …
Britain’s Cameron last week pronounced his country’s long-standing policy of multiculturalism a failure, calling for better integration of young Muslims to combat home-grown extremism.
He urged a “more active, muscular liberalism” where equal rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and democracy are actively promoted to create a stronger national identity.
The prime minister, who took power in May 2010, argued that “under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream”.
He said this had resulted in a lack of national identity in Britain which had made some young Muslims turn to extremist ideology.
Sarkozy said in his television interview Thursday that “our Muslim compatriots must be able to practice their religion, as any citizen can,” but he noted “we in France do not want people to pray in an ostentatious way in the street.”
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen late last year came under fire for comparing Muslims praying in the streets outside overcrowded mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.
Marine Le Pen said there were “ten to fifteen” places in France where Muslims worshipped in the streets outside mosques when these were full.
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1. Define multiculturalism.
2. What have each of the following world leaders said about their country’s official policy of multiculturalism?
a) French President Nicholas Sarkozy
b) British Prime Minister David Cameron
c) German Chancellor Angela Merkel
d) former Australian prime minister John Howard
e) former Spanish premier Jose Maria Aznar
3. Whose identity did President Sarkozy say the French government should be concerned with in French policy toward immigrants?
4. a) What beliefs does Prime Minister Cameron say should be actively promoted in England to create a strong national identity?
b) Do you agree with his assertion? Explain your answer.
5. Read the information under “Background” below the questions. Watch the videos under “Resources.” We don’t have to force people to abandon any knowledge or practice of their own culture. It is good for our citizens to learn about the positive aspects of other cultures. But if a culture is directly opposed to our culture/national identity e.g. equal rights for women and for all races, free speech, rule of law, etc., should we promote the culture of the immigrants at the expense of our own? Explain your answer.
Multiculturalism is the opposite of assimilation. Liberals believe multiculturalism is the best practice for a country and for the immigrants who come to that country.; conservatives believe assimilation is the best practice for a country, and for the immigrants who come to that country.
MULTICULTURALISM: The idea that a society, notably one with a high rate of immigration, is enriched by celebrating the separate contributions of its component cultures. (from wiktionary.org)
In the Western English-speaking countries, multiculturalism as an official national policy started in Canada in 1971, followed by Australia in 1973. It was quickly adopted as official policy by most member-states of the European Union [Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, etc.]. Recently, [moderate] right-of-center governments in several European states – notably the Netherlands and Denmark – have reversed the national policy and returned to an official monoculturalism. A similar reversal is the subject of debate in the United Kingdom, among others, due to evidence of incipient segregation and anxieties over “home-grown” terrorism. (from wikipedia)
Multiculturalism includes the following ideas:
- the culture of all groups of people should be afforded equal respect
- the different groups within a country should be kept separate so as to preserve their culture
- the idea that no culture is superior to any other
ASSIMILATION: the process through which people of different backgrounds come to see themselves as part of a larger national family. Assimilation has nothing to do with forcing a stifling uniformity of opinions and passions upon immigrants. Nor is it about destroying the ethnic heritages and cultural identities of the various groups and diverse subcultures that have always been part of the American experience.
Assimilation includes the following ideas:
- At the core of immigrant success is assimilation into the mainstream of American life. Central to assimilation is learning English because it is the language not only of economic opportunity, but also of our political culture, democratic self-government and history. It provides the basis for American cultural unity.
- If we want every new American to become full partners in our democracy, we should start with this question: How do we best encourage newcomers to become active citizens in American civic life?
- To effectively assimilate immigrants to become Americans, states must run Americanization programs designed to help immigrants assimilate into American culture, as they did throughout much of American’s history.
Watch a video of President Sarkozy’s remarks at news.yahoo.com/video/world-15749633/multiculturalism-has-failed-says-french-president-24158792.
Watch a video of Muslim men blocking a street in Paris to pray. This is a daily occurence.
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