A prominent Green Party politician has said Germans worried about mass immigration should learn Arabic to communicate with new arrivals from the Middle East, comparing it to Americans learning Spanish to speak to Mexicans. The comments from Volker Beck, the left-wing party’s spokesman on migration issues perhaps best known for his drugs arrest over the possession of crystal meth earlier this year, sparked a row about integration in Germany.
“Other countries are more relaxed about the fact that in some areas a
community with a migration background speaks another language,” Mr.
in an interview with broadcaster N-TV. “In the U.S., just visit their
Chinatowns, or you can find areas where Mexicans live,” he continued.
“[Foreign languages] create a discomfort, because people have the
feeling that they don’t understand everything”, he added. “But if it’s
really important to people, they should learn the language, then they
would understand what’s going on.”
Christina Schwarzer, a Christian Democrat MP in Neukölln, an area of
Berlin with a large migrant population, was quick to criticise the
“Then we can give up on any effort to integrate [migrants],” she told Bild. “Learning German is the cornerstone of integration.”
As a backlash grew, Mr. Beck responded
on Facebook, claiming that he did want migrants to learn German, but
maintained that people should think about learning foreign languages and
police should have more “intercultural competence”.
“This is nonsense. People who want to live in Germany have to learn,
understand and speak German,” he wrote. “In Germany, nobody needs to
learn another language to understand migrants and refugees, but they
have to learn German.
“Police and social workers we need more intercultural competence with
sufficient staff and integration skills. It is important we make the
offer of integration courses,” he added.