Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society has “utterly failed”, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarising her conservative camp.
Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.
“This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed,” Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.
Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU to take a tougher line on immigrants who don’t show a willingness to adapt to German society and her comments appeared intended to pacify her critics.
She said too little had been required of immigrants in the past and repeated her usual line that they should learn German in order to get by in school and have opportunities on the labour market.
Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer was even blunter: "We as the (Christian Democratic) Union stand for the dominant German culture and against multiculturalism – multiculturalism is dead,” he said according to news magazine Der Spiegel.