Is Europe's adventure in international living about to end?
At Potsdam, Germany, this weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the young conservatives of her Christian Democratic Union that Germany's attempt to create a multicultural society where people "live side by side and enjoy each other" has "failed, utterly failed."
Backing up her rueful admission are surveys showing 30 percent of Germans believe the country is overrun by foreigners. An equal number believe the foreigners come to feed off German welfare.
Merkel had in mind the Turks who came as gastarbeiters, guest workers, in the 1960s. Some 2.5 million now live in Germany.
Arabs and East Europeans have come more recently. One survey puts the Muslim population at 5 million.
"Multikulti is dead," says Horst Seehofer of Merkel's sister party, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. He wants no more immigration from "alien cultures." Turks and other Muslims are not learning the language, he contends, not assimilating, not becoming Germans.
Awareness of deep differences with Turkish neighbors became acute for Germans when, grieving in solidarity with America after 9/11, they learned that Turkish sectors of Berlin were celebrating Islam's victory with barrages of bottle rockets.
Like all of Europe, Germany grows nervous.
This summer, Thilo Sarrazin, who sat on the Bundesbank board, published "Germany Abolishes Itself," which sold 300,000 copies in seven weeks. Sarrazin argued that Germany's Muslim population is intellectually inferior and unable or unwilling to learn the language or culture, and mass immigration is destroying the nation.
No rightist, but a stalwart of the socialist party, Sarrazin was forced out at the Bundesbank. Half his socialist party stood by him.
Across Europe, there is a resurgence of ethnonationalism that is feeding the ranks of populist and anti-immigrant parties that are gaining respectability and reaching for power.
Austrian nationalists triumphed in 2008 when the Freedom Party of Joerg Haider and the Alliance for the Future of Austria together took 29 percent of the vote. The Swiss People's Party of Christoph Blocher, largest in Bern, was behind the successful referendum to change the constitution to outlaw minarets and prohibit the wearing of burqas.
Hungary's Jobbik Party, which to the Financial Times "sits squarely in Europe's most repulsive arch-nationalist tradition and which blames Jews and Roma for the hardships of other Hungarians," pulled 17 percent of the vote this year and entered parliament with 47 seats, up from zero seats in 2006.
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