Anonymous student post
David Cameron criticized ‘state multiculturalism’ at a security conference in Munich, on February 5, 2011. In particular, he emphasized that it failed to promote a common identity based on certain values such as democracy, the rule of law and equal rights. Therefore, he claimed a stronger national identity was required to prevent violent extremism. Also, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former president Nicolas Sarkozy of France identified with Mr. Cameron’s criticism of multiculturalism. Nowadays, Europe appears to be backing away from multiculturalism, particularly after the September 11 attacks.
With a growing influx of immigrants, multiculturalism was considered as a key to solve problems caused by policies based on assimilation and as a way to promote a harmonious relationship between host culture and immigrant culture. Many European countries conducted their immigration policy using multiculturalism as a way of new social integration. However, the trend of social ostracism against Islam and Muslim has developed connected to national security following a series of several terror attacks in 21C. Their culture and religion are not understood in a multiculturalist way, rather, people think they are at risk because of them. Also, some controversial issues have been brought up constantly since multiculturalism was introduced; whether young Arab women should be allowed to wear hijab in public school, how the honor killing or early marriage of some specific immigrant groups should be dealt with in host societies, and so on.
The question of how to integrate immigrants into a host country has always been a big issue. Neither assimilation nor multiculturalism provides a perfect answer. If assimilation is reinforced, isolation and dissatisfaction of immigrants who are not assimilated will become a social problem. European leaders who have declared multiculturalism will no longer support or focus on shared values and identities not their own cultural traits. However, it seems like they force such integration values from above. In this process, immigrants may experience frustration and exclusion from mainstream culture. On the other hand, if multiculturalism is too emphasized, people like Mr. Cameron think that it is divisive rather than unifying. Also, they argue that multiculturalism intrudes on the national identities of their countries. Therefore, it is important to harmonize the national policies of assimilation and multiculturalism.
What is the best way to integrate immigrants into host countries is the question for European society that needs to be sought constantly. The coexistence of cultures does not mean understanding each other’s culture unconditionally. Of course well-balanced immigration policy can promote coexistence, but social atmosphere that is respecting and compromising towards other cultures is also necessary. The beliefs of each culture should be respected as much as possible, and society needs to reach an agreement by communication and compromise whenever some parts are in conflicts with host culture.