Berlin police officers were thrown at with firecrackers and rockets on New Year’s Eve.
Sermin Fakipolitical chief
On New Year’s Eve, Berlin and other major German cities resembled a civil war scene: rioters set cars and buildings on fire, looted shops and attacked police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
The majority of the rioters were young foreigners, two thirds of the 145 people arrested in Berlin had a migration background. Berlin’s Mayor Franziska Giffey (44) said that most of them were “children and young people born in Berlin”.
“Don’t even know where the people came from”
This puts a spotlight on integration in major German cities – it has obviously not been possible to integrate immigrants into society there. Cihan Sinanoglu warns against hasty conclusions. For the scientist at the German Institute for Integration and Migration Research, far too little is known: “What did these young people say? Was it blind vandalism? Hate Germany? Or party tourism? We don’t even know where the people came from.”
Sinanoglu says you have to take what happened on New Year’s Eve very seriously – and make sure it doesn’t happen again. But: “Justifying the violence of New Year’s Eve with some other kind of culture falls far short of the mark,” says the expert. Rather, he suspects that toxic masculinity – “that is, letting the bloke hang out” – alcohol and group dynamics also played a role.
No access to the labor market
Sinanoglu does not deny that there is a problem – for example with foreign clans in Berlin-Neuköln. But you have to investigate the reasons for this. “One reason for the emergence of criminal structures was the blocked access to the labor market,” he says, for example. Many of the criminal clan structures were linked to the fact that many of the members of these extended families did not have access to the labor market.
The Ukrainian refugees, who did not have to apply for asylum and could take care of themselves much more quickly, would show what faster integration into the labor market would bring.
“Poverty is inherited”
For Sinanoglu it is clear that there is a social problem behind the failed integration. In Germany, everyone still does not have equal access to education, work and health. In the field of education, you can see that well: “The question of how far you can make it in life depends on where you come from. Poverty is inherited because children from difficult backgrounds have no chance to work their way up.» That’s where, he says, we have to start and, for example, offer nationwide all-day schools and non-discriminatory teaching materials.
According to Sinanoglu, Germany must finally understand that “we are a migration society – and behave accordingly.” His suggestions as to what that entails are explosive. “Why,” he asks, “do we insist on the German language in the education system? In a globalized world, multilingualism is an advantage.”