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Government Religion Human Rights

The Death of “Multikulti”?

Is it really ‘us’ versus ‘them’? photo: Alejandro Angel Velásquez/flickr

When the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke on Saturday about the “utter failure” of German attempts to foster a multicultural society, the move was widely seen as an attempt to bolster her position in a coalition increasingly focused on the issue of immigration.

In the aftermath of Thilo Sarrazin’s controversial book that accused Muslim migrants in particular of sapping the country of its intellectual vigor, her comments to young Christian Democratic Union (CDU) members seem particularly opportunistic.

Meanwhile, prominent members of Merkel’s coalition, chief among them the premier of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, have called for a halt to migration from other cultural spheres. Claiming to reflect the popular will, Seehofer has chosen to frame a thorny, complex and multifaceted issue in starkly populist terms.

While clearly immigration is a problematic issue in many European countries that struggle with economic uncertainty and immigrant populations of varying degrees of integration (and facing a variety of challenges from entrenched unemployment, language barriers and discrimination), the increasing acceptability of xenophobic rhetoric is a deeply worrying phenomenon that is taking root beyond the geographical margins of Europe. In addition to the well-documented cases in Holland, Switzerland and most recently Sweden, German politics seem to be lurching in a similar direction.

Instead of debating the issue constructively, and engaging positively with those immigrants (whether Muslim or not) that seek to integrate- the public debate across Europe seems to be moving towards the blanket-stigmatization of immigrants. A sense of xenophobic dread and a wish to turn back the time on increasingly diverse and ethnically, socially and religiously diverse societies seems to underlie this trend.

Categories
International Relations Government Culture

On Course with European Identity

Pieces of a European puzzle, photo: Cemre/flickr

South Wales is not renowned as a symbol of European identity. Indeed, if you were fortunate enough to watch the drama unfold at the 38th Ryder Cup last week – the biennial golfing contest between Europe and the USA – you might have missed the phenomenon occurring beyond the playing area.

Yes, what might just have passed for a raucous band of Brussels bureaucrats on tour was, in fact, a crowd of 50,000 European golf fans (many of them British) bedecked in blue and yellow – many literally wrapped in the EU flag – cheering on their team with endless chants of ‘Europe, Europe’. For this supporter, bred on a British media diet of fear and skepticism regarding the Brussels ‘takeover’, the passionate display of ‘europeanness’ was faintly startling.

Put the tournament in its proper context as the one event where Europe is represented as a single team and with a television audience of one billion people (making this the third largest sporting event in the world) and you’ll understand why President Barroso of the European Commission was positively giddy as he opened proceedings.  Remember, this is also from the perspective of a country where 71 percent want a referendum on EU membership, and of a Union to which less than half its members’ populations feel any attachment.

But what does it say about European identity when its most fervent popular expression is in a sport characterized by birdies, bogeys and bunkers?

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ISN Weekly Theme: The Rise of the Right

Europe turning right? Courtesy of: Rene De Paula Jr/flickr

One hallmark of Europe’s changing political landscape in the past decades has been the steady rise of parties on the extreme right. This week the ISN explores the ‘family’ of right-wing parties and the implications of their rising popularity and clout across the continent.

Our Special Report offers the following content:

  • An Analysis by Dr Michale Bruter on the concept and reach of the extreme right in Europe.
  • A Podcast with Dr Andrea Mammone of Kingston University London on the rise of the right in Italy and the political, economic and ethical crisis engulfing the country.
  • Security Watch articles on the popularity of right wing parties among foreigners in Switzerland and on the rise of right-wing extremism in the UK.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including a Centre for Eastern Studies commentary on Germany’s integration and naturalization policies and a Danish Institute for International Studies paper on multiculturalism in Denmark and Sweden.
  • Primary Resources, among them Geert Wilders’ speech in the House of Lords and a report on violence against Roma in Naples, Italy.
  • Links to relevant websites, including an article on populism in Europe and a swissinfo page on Islam and Switzerland that details last year’s minaret debate and its aftermath.
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Uncategorized

Call for Applications: Junior Associates Program

The ISN is proud to announce the launch of our Junior Associates Program. The program brings together young professionals from Swiss-based institutions, companies and international organizations , as well as promising young scholars from Swiss universities, in a cooperative project that builds bridges and networks across the Swiss IR community.

Each program cycle will focus on a theme; this year, the topic will be

Europe and Islamic Countries – New Frontiers, Fresh Perspectives

The broad range of issues that may be explored under this thematic umbrella include:

  • Swiss/European policy toward ‘marginal’ Muslim regions, such as North Africa, parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
  • Economic cooperation between Europe and North Africa
  • Population growth in the Arab world and the migration of young Arabs to Europe
  • Muslim perspectives on identity and place in 21st century Europe

Through collaboration, Junior Associates are expected to draft two Junior Associates Special Reports, to be published by the ISN in late 2010 and early 2011.

Junior Associates will also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive ISN Junior Associates event in Zurich in early October of this year. The event will feature high caliber speakers on this year’s topic.

For more information and to request an application form, visit the program’s website. Questions can be addressed to the program manager, Kaisa Schreck, or the program assistant, Jonas Rey, by sending an email to ja[at]sipo.gess.ethz.ch.

Categories
International Relations

Call for Applications: Junior Associates Program

The ISN is proud to announce the launch of our Junior Associates Program. The program brings together young professionals from Swiss-based institutions, companies and international organizations , as well as promising young scholars from Swiss universities, in a cooperative project that builds bridges and networks across the Swiss IR community.

Each program cycle will focus on a theme; this year, the topic will be

Europe and Islamic Countries – New Frontiers, Fresh Perspectives

The broad range of issues that may be explored under this thematic umbrella include:

  • Swiss/European policy toward ‘marginal’ Muslim regions, such as North Africa, parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
  • Economic cooperation between Europe and North Africa
  • Population growth in the Arab world and the migration of young Arabs to Europe
  • Muslim perspectives on identity and place in 21st century Europe

Through collaboration, Junior Associates are expected to draft two Junior Associates Special Reports, to be published by the ISN in late 2010 and early 2011.

Junior Associates will also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive ISN Junior Associates event in Zurich in early October of this year. The event will feature high caliber speakers on this year’s topic.

For more information and to request an application form, visit the program’s website. Questions can be addressed to the program manager, Kaisa Schreck, or the program assistant, Jonas Rey, by sending an email to ja[at]sipo.gess.ethz.ch.