In Berlin, there were wild scenes on New Year’s Eve.
Carla DeVizziEditor News
On New Year’s Eve, there was a picture in Berlin that you won’t soon forget. Hundreds of young people were out for a riot at the turn of the year and attacked police officers and rescue workers with firecrackers and rockets. Several emergency services were injured in the violent excesses, for which mainly young men with a migration background were responsible.
Such desert scenes are unthinkable in Switzerland. Nevertheless, it could have happened in Germany if we had let the integration work slide. One example is the Längi district in the municipality of Pratteln BL. The quarter used to be considered a focal point and was even referred to as the “Pratteln ghetto” due to the high proportion of foreigners.
“At that time, gangs formed among the young people, and there was more violence than in other quarters,” says Andrea Sulzer (51), head of the department for education, leisure and culture in the municipality of Pratteln, to Blick. The social peace was endangered. Illegal waste disposal and littering also made life difficult for the authorities in what was then a problem area. In his integration portrait of 2007, the Swiss sociologist Michal Arend even spoke of “considerable integration problems” that apparently were not recognized as such and were not actively addressed. Until 2008. Then the municipality of Pratteln – and in particular the district of Längi – applied for the pilot project “projet urbain” and was allowed to participate.
1.5 million for neighborhood work
Around 1.5 million francs were invested in the neighborhood work over a period of eight years. “Among other things, with the founding of the neighborhood meeting, we were able to create places for activities and encounters to improve the coexistence of different cultures,” says Benjamin van Vulpen (36), specialist responsible for neighborhood work, to Blick. According to Sulzer, living together used to be fraught with conflict, but today it works well. “Around 100 different nationalities live here, and around 65 percent of the people in the Längi are foreigners,” says van Vulpen.
In addition, thanks to the neighborhood development, the image of the neighborhood has also been improved: “Längi no longer attracts negative attention and is no longer referred to as a ghetto. This is also thanks to the good cooperation with the school and the offers from private individuals in the Längi,” explains Sulzer. There are a lot of foreigners, but the cooperation works well, confirms a local resident. “Everyone is peaceful here,” agrees Johann von Siebenthal (88), who has lived in the Längi district for 23 years.
“Switzerland has the greatest integration success in Europe”
In the municipality of Suhr AG, a project for neighborhood development was started in 2016 due to the high proportion of immigrants and the high social welfare rate – with success. “Since we got people on board and they’ve been able to tackle activities in the district, living together has been better,” says Anna Greub (38), Head of District Development Suhr, to Blick.
Nevertheless, the whole thing is not a sure-fire success, and you always have to keep at it. “There are still certain challenges in the community. But that is never comparable to the situation in the banlieues in France or in other cities in Germany. »
But how is it that the ghetto problem is smaller in this country than in France, Germany or Sweden? “In Switzerland we have the greatest integration success in Europe,” says Basel migration expert Thomas Kessler (62) to Blick. In addition, such riots would often break out in larger cities. “Swiss cities are too small for that.”
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Migration problems are not called by name
Thanks to neighborhood development and other integration measures, many problems in Switzerland are being tackled right from the start. The best example is the vocational training system. “The apprenticeship is the best integration system there is,” says Kessler. In addition, the small size, the good prospects and the permeability of the education system also contribute to the fact that integration works better in Switzerland than in other countries.
In contrast to other nations, migration issues are not a taboo subject in Switzerland. “Otherwise people are afraid of dealing with the subject, but here all questions are put on the table,” says Kessler. Germany and Sweden in particular have reservations about naming problems with migrants.
In the case of Germany, this is clearly due to the country’s 20th-century past. “German history shapes the people and their politics to this day. You don’t want to be xenophobic and you’re cautious about demanding benefits from migrants.” As a result, entire clans were formed that were never encouraged to integrate, according to Kessler. Sweden, on the other hand, sees itself at the top of the world civilization, which makes it difficult to admit problems.
It turns out that as a heavily politicized country, Switzerland has a major advantage over others. In this country, migration issues are constantly being debated – belittling only makes the problems bigger.