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CRISIS AND TOLERANCE: Does Europe have enough money to pay immigrants their welfare?

CRISIS AND TOLERANCE: Does Europe have enough money to pay immigrants their welfare?

Recently a group of Swiss-residing Muslim lawyers demanded to...change the flag of a country they’d moved into. After a profound consideration of state symbols of a country that hosted them Turkish, Albanian and Bosnian migrants discovered an "unpleasant" detail. This is namely the cross displayed at the Swiss flag that "insults the memory of believers" and "reminds of the Crusades".

Last winter the leaders of the most immigration-attractive European countries demonstrated a high degree of solidarity on an important political matter. Almost simultaneously Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron admitted that the so-called multiculturalism policy had failed completely. Achieving even a peaceful symbiosis of immigrants and natives seems to be utterly impossible. Despite the fact that one out five Germans is an immigrant or a child of immigrant these days, only one out of ten immigrants has found jobs during the last 10 years. The remaining 9 feel themselves just fine with the welfare, which every enlightened European state pays. That burdens the budget furthermore and aggravates the headache of the authorities. The immigration issues, though, are not confined with finances alone. The unwillingness of the new immigrants’ generation to adopt the common basis of European values — language, traditions and culture — inevitably builds up the tensions and the minority attempts dictate its will to the majority.

At that, the examples of such dictatorship attempts turn all the more glaring. Recently a group of Swiss-residing Muslim lawyers demanded to...change the flag of a country they’d moved into. After a profound consideration of state symbols of a country that hosted them Turkish, Albanian and Bosnian migrants discovered an "unpleasant" detail. This is namely the cross displayed at the Swiss flag that "insults the memory of believers" and "reminds of the Crusades". Ivica Petrusevic, Vice President if the immigrants’ association Secondos Plus was the first man to offer removing the cross from the Swiss flag. "Cross doesn’t fit the contemporary multicultural Switzerland" — immigrant from the former Yugoslavia stated.

There are plenty migrants in Switzerland — approximately 450 thousand of them, while the Swiss population makes up about 7.5 million people. Notwithstanding, even this ratio barely grants them the right, what fits Switzerland and what not. All the more, the offered alternative to the "unpleasant" flag (for immigrants) is quite equivocal.

After a thorough research of Swiss history, applied symbols and signs, ardent lawyers concluded that the banner of the so-called Helvetic Republic will suit the multicultural Switzerland the best. At that, the Helvetic Republic itself emerged as pseudo-state under French protectorate, existed for 5 years (since 1798 until 1803) and got famous only for the sheer number of armed revolts against French occupants, "wandering" capitals, outrageous political instability and the amounts of money that have flown to France. During the age of the Helvetic Republic a caricature has become popular — it depicted Swiss dancing around a "Tree of Liberty", while French had been loading sacks with money onto the carts. Well, we may surely certain analogies to the nowadays situation. Freedom of press is aplenty in Europe these days, while the money keeps running low.

So why have migrants liked the Helvetic Republic flag so much? Firstly, it contains nothing to insult the people, who honored Switzerland with moving there and secondly, it’ really pretty. That’s what the official statement of immigrants says: "We offer using the flag of the Helvetic Republic, painted in green, red and yellow, which looks alike with Ghana and Bolivian flags". At that, an inevitable question emerges — why haven’t the former Turkish and Albanian citizens chosen to live in Ghana and Bolivia instead? It also remains unclear, whether Christians, living in Turkey will be able to file lawsuits, demanding to change the Turkish national flag, depicting a crescent.

Neither do we know what goal have lively Muslim lawyers pursued, although the reaction of the Swiss society was actually predefined. In the end of 2009 the resumes of the Swiss national referendum on the further construction of minarets has clearly demonstrated the lack of passion for multiculturalism.

The "reformers" of state symbols have chosen the least appropriate moment for their demarche. Right in October the next parliament elections are to take place and according to the polls, the Swiss People’s Party (SPP), whose members initiated the minaret-related referendum, got an extra share of voters’ support. The punch-lines of the SPP election were the promise to evict all the foreign criminals, stop the mass immigration and resist the Swiss joining the EU by all means. Without waiting long for the elections to start, the SPP revived its bill, forbidding to cover faces in the public places except at the "festivities and holidays, stipulating the wearing of masks and other analogous accessories". Previously the second chamber of the Swiss parliament refused to restrict hijabs but the initiatives for changing the Swiss national flag may change the mind of Swiss law-makers.

We can’t rule out the possibility of launching the Swiss-like mechanisms in Norway. Norwegian lawyers (just like Swiss ones) have stood up with a number of initiatives. They have particularly proposed legalizing the Shariah courts. Tor Landbach, leader of the Norwegian Court Alignment, and numerous human rights activist consider the de-facto operation of Shariah courts (and many "new Norwegian" obeying to them) to be a sufficient ground for that. Landbach believes that Shariah courts may be included into the system of Norwegian legal proceedings. He claims that if a faithful Muslim is offered swear an oath on Bible, has no reasons whatsoever for awing the procedure.

Lawyers and human rights activists delicately omit the fact that it undermines both state security and the very foundations of the legal system. Clerical right has lost its grounds in Europe and the contemporary legislation is based upon the Roman right. Norwegian Minister of Justice Knut Storberget is unwilling to support these bold initiatives and has all the grounds for that. He claimed the idea of legalizing Shariah rule to be a dangerous one: "The legislation must remain utmost neutral from the religious point of view. If we legalize the Shariah rule even partially women will inevitably lose".

Human rights activists reply that the "non-tolerant" standpoint of the Justice Minister is destined to fail: "This is like charging the windmills". Self-made banners "Shariah territory", stuck to the bus stops and store doors are all the more frequent in the immigrant districts of Norwegian cities. Lawyers and human rights activist states that quite a lot of "new Norwegian", Somali expatriates mostly, live in a religious marriage. Men often have up to six wives, including the under-aged ones, who reside in the flats, paid by the social services. It goes without saying that the absolute majority of Somali "Norwegians" is unwilling to assimilate in the classic Norwegian society.

That’s the status quo and not only in Norway. As far back as in the middle of the summer, Islamic extremists have launched a pan-British campaign, sticking the banners to mark up the areas of Shariah law. Living districts were covered in the banners that said: "You enter the Shariah-controlled zone and have to obey the Islamic laws!" Radical priest Anjem Choudary assumed the responsibility for the action, exclaiming the plans to flood the Muslim and non-Muslim districts all over the Great Britain with them, stating that "in the long run this will sow the seeds for the ripening Islamic Emirate".

While the activity of Swiss "reformers" causes merely aggravated discontent with immigrants and the imposition of protectionist cultural and religious steps, in Norway the situation is the opposite. Crusade of the terrorist Breivik has driven European right-wingers to an utmost inconvenient situation. Any attempt to protect the traditional set of Norwegian values is treated as a disguised approval of his actions. Breivik has in fact forced Norwegian authorities and their neighboring counterparts to make more — and rarely mutual — steps towards the immigrants, who don’t consider it necessary assimilating in the community and keeping up with the general rules of the land with its own history, traditions and values.

Meanwhile, today’s changes of immigration policy are inevitable and conditioned by economic (along with cultural and political) reasons. Mind that it’d be financially impossible to maintain large unemployed masses forever, when the crisis comes.

By Andrey Polevoy

 

 

 

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