Michael Groys on Nazis, Jews, Islamists and Caucasians in Germany
A Board Member of the Board for Migration of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Michael Groys, told Vestnik Kavkaza about the Nazis, Jews, Islamists and Caucasians in Germany.
- Mr. Groys, since the beginning of the tragic events in the Middle East, Germany has received a huge number of refugees from the region each year. We see that German society reacts uniquely, this flow is not always digested by society, the latest attacks on a refugee camp, many of which were opened in Germany in recent years, demonstrates this. The PEGIDA movement was also developed in the last year. What do you think, what public moods about migrants prevail now in Germany? These reports about the radicalization of society that we read in the media, in your opinion, is it a dramatization or is there some objective tendency to worsen the situation?
In my opinion, there is no general integration policy or concept of integration policies in Germany
- In my opinion, there is no general integration policy or concept of integration policies in Germany. There is a certain element or instruments which help to deal with these problems. This is a key moment. Once people come to Germany, there is a logical question – what will happen to them here? So there is no definitive answer to this question at the federal, or lander, or municipal level. This is a big problem.
The German people today are not ready for these waves of migrants from the Middle East
The second major problem is that the German people today are not ready for these waves of migrants from the Middle East. They do not understand why these people come here, or they understand, but do not know what to do with them. This is a very extensive problem, which was not engaged with sufficiently for many years. Not enough attention was paid to communicating why these people come here, what they are doing here, what they can achieve here, what their chances are, what risks are hiding in multiculturalism and multi-religious relations.
Not enough attention was paid to communicating why these people come here, what they are doing here, what they can achieve here, what their chances are, what risks are hiding in multiculturalism and multi-religious relations
- Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that the policy of multiculturalism has failed in Germany. Even then it was clear that if there is a failure, so its effects will follow. Has the German state taken any institutional solutions that would prevent a possible impending crisis?
- There are two levels, two moments. There are former migrants and their descendants who are not migrants at all, but they are citizens of Germany. The problems of integration of these people is the one part of the question. The other part are the refugees who have been here for many years, and they must decide what to do with them next, how to integrate them. They cannot work, and this often leads to an increase in crime and other negative phenomena. There are educated people among the immigrants, who have nothing to do but wait all day to hear what the German state will decide over their fate. The policy must find answers to such specific issues. For example, in Denmark the refugees are able to go to work for a short time. It is clear that these are not highly skilled types of work, but still the fact that they were allowed to work is great progress, which Germany doesn't have.
- The right-wing forces in Germany are convinced that the refugees arriving in Germany are potential Islamists and terrorists, who have no place in a civilized society. We know that there are functioning cells of jihadists in Germany. After all, hundreds of Germans, including ethnic Germans, are fighting for Islamic State now. How justified are the assertions that the Muslim community in Germany can go on the road of radicalization?
I believe that it is very dangerous to consider everyone as potential terrorists. I see a great danger in the right-wing forces. They are more dangerous to German democracy than the unhappy refugees who came here to escape the war
- I believe that it is very dangerous to consider everyone as potential terrorists. I see a great danger in the right-wing forces. They are more dangerous to German democracy than the unhappy refugees who came here to escape the war. No one comes to a foreign state from a good life. People are running away from the military situation. People didn't come to Germany just to pick up other people's jobs or kill someone or rape. I think that it is a big mistake to potentially treat everyone as terrorists. It is a form of Islamophobia, which should be discussed.
It is a big mistake to potentially treat everyone as terrorists. It is a form of Islamophobia, which should be discussed
But we can't be silent about radical Islamism and the radical trends among the migrants, it must be nipped in the bud. However, it concerns a small portion of the total number of visitors. If it comes to that, this rather concerns those who are living and radicalizing here. What can we do with them, especially if they have German citizenship, and they are an integral part of German society?
This rather concerns those who are living and radicalizing here. What can we do with them, especially if they have German citizenship, and they are an integral part of German society?
- So what can we do with them?
Education at all levels, to show people that education can give them a job in Germany, some prospects and a future. Hopelessness leads to radicalization
- Of course, on the one hand, we need to act preemptively, not only repressive, not only to put them in prisons. The issue of Islamism won't be solved by the closures of mosques and arrests, it must be admitted. It turns out that the answer to the question is education. Education at all levels, to show people that education can give them a job in Germany, some prospects and a future. Hopelessness leads to radicalization. Radical imams have a chance only if the people have no prospects, no job, no proper education. The central point of the integration of these people is their integration into the educational system and the labor market. The integration concept should consist of these two parts.
- You also face issues of anti-Semitism during the work. There is a special attitude to this whole issue in the context of the well-known historical events in Germany. What is the current situation with anti-Semitism in Germany? What are the main factors affecting the development of the situation?
The disease of anti-Semitism has not left either Germany nor Europe
- Unfortunately, the disease of anti-Semitism has not left either Germany or Europe. If you look over the statistics, you can observe the growth of anti-Semitism in Germany, France, and throughout the whole of Europe.
Anti-Semitism, of course, always involves destruction as its ultimate goal
- How is this reflected? Do they not hire them or organize attacks?
- In Europe, we are not talking about state-organized anti-Semitism. We are talking about cases of domestic anti-Semitism, like drubbing. Anti-Semitism ends with physical destruction, as we saw in Copenhagen, Brussels and Paris. Anti-Semitism, of course, always involves destruction as its ultimate goal.
- And who is y driver of anti-Semitism at the institutional level? Are these right-wing radical groups or Islamist groups?
Nazis attack Jewish graveyards, draw swastikas on houses
- The question is who is more dangerous. Yes, Nazis attack Jewish graveyards, draw swastikas on houses, and so on. However, as we could recently see in Europe, there was a threat from radical Islamism. The threat is very certain and clear. And we have to speak about it, avoiding Islamophobia. We speak about radical Islamism which has nothing in common with Islam as it is. This problem must be solved.
- Does anyone try to solve it? Does the German state understand the threats to the Jewish community?
Criticism of Israel as a state is not recognized as anti-Semitism. Current anti-Semites won’t criticize Jews openly.
- I think it is very important for Germany that the Jewish people have given it a second chance; I mean that they live here. I think it doesn’t want to miss the chance. Of course a lot is being done, but the question is whether it is enough. What should they do? How can statistics be recorded? This especially concerns the far right forces, not Islamists. How can it be recorded? What should be done in education? What tools should be used to prevent this? In fact the laws support the Jews, but they must be followed. This is another point. Criticism of Israel as a state is not recognized as anti-Semitism. Current anti-Semites won’t criticize Jews openly.
- It is no secret that people in Germany like criticizing Israel so much. Look at forums and social networks…
There 83 million experts on the Middle East in Germany, who tell Israel what to do and how to do it. Not all criticism of Israel and its policy is anti-Semitism, obviously. However, today it is clear that hatred against Israel means hatred against Jews. Or those who are anti-Semites due to Israel have always been anti-Semites.
- Are there cases of cooperation between the Jewish communities of Germany and Islamic communities?
Yes, and there are positive experiences and positive examples. It is not that bad. The Jewish Community, young Jewish people, the student center have especially close relations with Azerbaijani friends. They even organize a joint iftar in Ramadan.
There are many meetings, inter-religious and intercultural dialogues, including those in schools. The main point is to show that we can be friends; it is especially important to explain in schools. There are politicians of Palestinian or Arab origin, who are against anti-Semitism and ready to help. And Germany’s Jews should always welcome their help.
Two years ago we realized due to the example of the circumcision case that cooperation between Jews and Muslims was very important. Two years ago, the Cologne court forbade circumcision in some cases, as a child had serious bleeding after the procedure. Serious debates were raised all over Germany after the case; they went up to the Bundestag. As a result, circumcision wasn’t forbidden, but the whole topic was very unpleasant for Jews, as well as for Muslims. However, we were fighting for each other, as this was an integral part of our religion; and many people came here from their countries to defend religious freedom.
- Are there districts in Germany, in Berlin where we are at the moment, where a Jew is better not to go?
Unfortunately, there are such districts. At least, there are places where it is unsafe to walk, wearing a kippah, a Jewish yarmulke. I think it is a tragic moment that Germany allows such places to exist. And Jews ask a legitimate question: why do we live in a state which cannot defend us? How can the German state, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of German-Israeli relations this year, accept that in some districts, shops, there are maps without Israel, only Palestine without the Jews? I think it is a serious issue. They can polish stones with the names of the murdered Jews, remember the Holocaust, but this won’t help the Jews who live in Germany today.
The Germans like to be proud that they are so good, they remember the Jews; but it seems they enjoy their own remorse – a kind of Christian element: I will repent and be forgiven. I always say in such cases that from the Jewish point of view, the tragedy cannot be forgiven. There is no end and no forgiveness. Of course, people who were born after 1945 are not guilty personally. This is clear. But there is the responsibility of the German state, and the responsibility of every German democrat to prevent such things in the future.
- Due to your job, you often meet natives of the Caucasus. A few years ago the German media disclosed details of mass migration from Chechnya to Germany. What is the situation today? Did the wave of Chechen migrants stop? Do they have an opportunity for their cultural development and integration?
- Last year 30 thousand Chechen refugees came to Germany; they were mainly Chechens with Wahabist views – according to them, they were repressed in Chechnya by Kadyrov and asked for asylum in Germany. Whether these people are dangerous or not, I cannot say; but I know that the German special services are actively working with the FSB. There are certain Chechens who are wiretapped by special units, as there is a threat coming from them. At the same time, I don’t want to unite everybody into one group. The process should be followed attentively and independently from confrontations with Russia over Ukraine. They should cooperate with the Russian security services.
I think integration into German society will be very difficult, as they are very segregated, almost don’t communicate with other Muslim groups. There is no concept of their integration as well. Turks and Arabs have been living here for decades, but the Germans don’t know anything about Chechens.