Si tacuisses… Angela Merkel at the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR)

Of course, the German chancellor did not physically participate in the progressive and anti-imperialist  counter-event to the GFMD Mexico. But her infamous remarks on the alleged “failure of multiculturalism” just made it into the opening plenary speech of the IAMR  by Antonio Tujan Jr. Director of IBON International, here in the cultural center La Piramide, Mexico D.F.

Asian migrant activists, especially from the Philippines and Indonesia (often based in Hong Kong) are once more very prominently featured in the IAMR. As a result, the speaker before Tujan has just called for a trans-Pacific alliance between Latinos and Asians and encouraged his fellow Mexicans to incorporate an “Asian Way of Life” since “the United States is collapsing”.

But even far-away Germany, my  home country, was mentioned, although for reasons I could certainly do without. While not being a supporter of Ms. Merkel, I had so far thought of her has a sound person at least. But her controversial statement about multiculturalism, clearly directed towards a domestic audience engaged in a heated debate about integration, has found a wide international resonance. Some racist politicians like Mr. Wilder from the Netherlands wereclearly delighted – not the kind of company you want to be associated with…

As an experienced politician, Ms. Merkel should have been aware that it makes a difference for the international audience, if such a statement is voiced by some Bavarian warlord or by the chancellor.

So, while on the ground and community level, there are actually a lot of good integration efforts in Germany, in the last months the national agenda has suffered a backlash of 20 years at least, and there is very little enlightened engagement at the international level (often, quite the opposite). Let’s see how Germany will engage in the Civil Society Days (CSD), where they are co-chairing a session in the Common Space between civil society and government representatives with Morocco on “Competency Networks”.

UPDATE 16/11/2010

Although I ended up in a parallel session dealing with the work of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Immigrants in Chiapas, Mexico, I heard positive assessments of the session on “Competency Networks”. The session was hosted by the German Development Cooperation (GTZ).


About Dr. Stefan Rother

Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute at the University of Freiburg -- Freelance journalist -- You can find my CV at the links below:
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