Angela Merkel ranks number one on the list of 100 women who lead the world according to Forbes. They released their list on May 28 of this year. A woman with this type of power makes statements and people listen. She made a comment opposing multiculturalism in 2010. Her viewpoint spread to Britain, and now the anti-multiculturalism movement which Angela Merkel began in Germany has made its way across the pond to Quebec.
In 2010, Germany had rising feelings of anti-immigration to the tune of 30 percent of people thinking there were too many foreigners in their country. The BBC reported Merkel as saying that learning to speak German is important for them and for Germany. She felt that all attempts at creating a multicultural society in Germany had failed. The level of involvement of immigrants at integrating into society was not enough.
Merkel did go on to say that foreigners were welcome in Germany. At the time the BBC article was published there was widespread debate in Germany about immigration how the influx of foreigners was related to a rise in Islam and crime – none of which has been corroborated. Thilo Sadazin, a senior official from Germany’s central bank, who made these comments, has since resigned.
Fast forward one year to February 2011. David Cameron Britain’s Prime Minster made a speech about how the multiculturalism movement is not working. In his address Cameron said, “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”
Cameron was simply stating that without feelings of nationalism we cannot stop hatred or extremists of any group. He specifically discussed Islam and the differences between radicals and those who practice the peaceful religious tradition that Islam is for most Muslims.
Cameron warned of the hands-off approach of tolerance that many have adopted. People cannot be afraid of hurting one another’s feelings. For the Prime Minster, the first step towards that is moving towards integration. Cameron is pro-Angela Merkel’s anti-multiculturalism movement that she begun in Germany in 2010.
In the fall of 2013, anti-multiculturalism found its way to Quebec when the Charter of Values was proposed. The charter requires that there will be a transition period during which government workers will not be allowed to wear religious symbols including the Sikh turban, the Christian cross or the Muslim hijab while at work, according to a New York Time article dated Jan 10, 2014. The requirements in the Charter of Values are based on the current Canadian government’s view of what secularization of government means.
The language the charter uses is that of equality. The reasoning behind the proposed requirements seems to be that if government employees are allowed to wear religious symbols that distinguish their clothing or jewelry, such as the Christian cross, then people will become naturally segregated and that can lead to inequality. Multiculturalism, for Quebec like Britain and Germany, is a viewpoint that many people argue is creating more divisions within their states and less nationalism and pride.
Anti-multiculturalism does not come from a drive to promote rigidity and uniformity in a culture. The intended goals of anti-multiculturalism include bringing the various cultures of a nation together and encouraging people to start acting like one nation again. Angela Merkel, David Cameron and other government leaders believe that the only way to end inequality and to end terrorism is through the integration of all people into the society in which they have chosen to live. The anti-multiculturalism campaign may have begun with Angela Merkel’s comments in 2010 but the movement is still going strong and has moved to North America.
By Sara Kourtsounis