A summary/translation of an interview with Heinz Buschkowsky, the mayor of the immigrant-heavy Neukölln district of Berlin.
Buschkowsky says that in the Neukölln Jobcenter, 90% of the clients are under 25 and have no advanced qualifications or a wish to integrate into the job market. Meanwhile there are 1000 apprenticeship spots available in Berlin. Many young people don't have basic education. It's about social skills: getting up in the morning at a certain time, being reliable, punctual, knowing basic math and the German language. In North Neukölln 66-75% of the children under 14 get welfare benefits (Hartz IV), and in the schools, up to 90% of the parents are exempt from paying for schoolbooks. Many children don't know anybody who regularly goes to work. The money comes from the government. The teachers say that in many homes, the only ones leaving in the morning are the kids going to school.
Q: Many Palestinian families in Berlin, for example, were just indulged for years. And their children weren't trained to do anything.
BUSCHKOWSKY: For 20-25 years we've gotten these people used to the social system. Now they run it like professionals. We shouldn't be surprised. The minute those indulged families were established and had children, we should have worried about the future and employment of the children. I'll get unemployment benefits, is the defiant answer when you ask what they want to do in life.
Q: They don't want to work?
BUSCHKOWSKY: Of the 100 apprentices here in city hall, only a few are boys. Office job? I'm not gay. Reading books, learning is all girl's stuff. These are young men who learned at home that a man is a warrior, he should be brave and courageous. Girls are pure, chaste and obedient.
Q: Why is this still going on today?
BUSCHKOWSKY: For the people who immigrated 200 years ago, home was far away. It was stories from their grandfather's memories. Today they fly back twice a year for 39 euro to recharge the tradition-battery. The upbringing images remain vivid.
Q: Also more and more German parents are being overwhelmed by their children's education, and aren't being educated.
BUSCHKOWSKY: Yes, naturally. But in the immigrant communities the lack of education is more pronounced.
Buschkowsky says there are numerous examples of successful integration careers. It helps, but not more than that. You can't ignore the problems. Domestic violence, for example, is four times more common in immigrant families than in German families.
Q: How distant are you from the controversial statements made by Thilo Sarrazin? (see here and here)
Buschkowsky says that Sarrazin is right in some things and wrong in others. His statements on the educational policy and on the inheritance of intelligence in certain ethnic groups is nonsense. His formulations verge on racism.
However, Buschkowsky says he sees nothing wrong with being provocative and says it's a legitimate polictial tool.
Q: Are there people you'd like to send home?
Buschkowsky asks back: where is the home of the Sergio or Mohammed who beat people up? There are the sons of fathers who themselves are sons of guest workers. He naturalizes people every 14 days, and though in some cases he doesn't want to, there are also some Germans that seeing what they do on vacation, he wishes wishes they would miss their flight back. He says the more crucial issue is how he can prevent Mohammed's son from turning into a criminal as well.
Q: You've given up on Mohammed?
BUSCHKOWSKY: Yes, it's over. A case for the social transfer or the courts. I have no hope for multiple offenders. I am not a grandson of Mother Teresa. Multiple offenders are depraved in their heads, but they're not impotent. We must therefore take social responsibility for the children.
Q: You would intervene as early as possible?
BUSCHKOWSKY: I support compulsory preschool education and day-schools, as in Europe. In a decade, nobody in Germany will discuss compulsory kindergarten. The authority for education should be transferred from the sandbox games of the states and to the federal government. You can see the reality in our society by looking at the results of the referendum in Hamburg on having six year primary schools. Joint socialization, education transfer, the right to equal opportunities, everything's good, but not with my child, in my neighborhood.
Q: Do you want more state influence on the family?
BUSCHKOWSKY: Look at the day-care centers. The children who need kindergarten the most are represented the least. We therefore need an intervening society. I am totally in favor of using money as an education factor for parents. If your child doesn't go to school, the child benefits won't go into your account. And there you'll end truancy. Democracy is not a guide for arbitrariness. It's pointless to wait for integration. Integration must be demanded, but also promoted.
Q: What upsets you?
BUSCHKOWSKY: The ignorance. There are many Neuköllns in Germany. The number of those who can't lead an independent life grows from year to year. If the demographics continue this way, for the needed million, we'll need about another 600,000 births a year. A quarter have no education, a quarter leave the country after getting academic training at the public's expense, and the remaining 300,000 care for themselves and their family, and apart from that annually triple the GDP. How will that work? If it goes on like that, in 15-30 years the social system will collapse.
Q: What do these problems have to do with Islam?
BUSCHKOWSKY: Islam can't be reconciled with a modern state in its orthodox and traditional original form, since it does not accept the separation of church and state. The Alevi interpretation and lifestyle of Islam sets a different standard. Otherwise I'm totally dispassionate as to which God you find your peace with.
Q: Is there anything that annoys you in this context?
BUSCHKOWSKY: Girls who wear the headscarves already in day care, elementary school children who have to fast during Ramadan.
Q: Do you also contact these religious groups?
Buschkowsky says it's not a one-way street, and that the needs of the over 20 mosques in Neukölln rarely converge. As a society, we only have one chance. We must emancipate the young people in the schools via knowledge so that they won't be part of the traditional parallel society.