The question of why Turkish-Germans are poorly integrated into German society is one of those hot-button issues that gets people's blood boiling here no matter which part of the political spectrum they hail from.
Yesterday's release of a new studythat underlined the grim present circumstances and future dangers of this trend is just the most recent in a long, long line of events that brings the simmering issue to the fore every few months.
In short, the study by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development found that, even after decades in Germany, immigrants and their children fail to learn German well, perform well in school and find and hold well-paying jobs.
What's new about the study is that it brings to the debate a statistical "Index for the Measurement of Immigration," which purports to show in a scientific manner how well -- or poorly -- an immigrant group is anchored in German society.
But, in effect, what the study really does is ring the bell for another round of the blame game. German newspapers returned to the issue from their well-established political positions.
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"There are many ways to interpret the new integration study . The most popular one holds that immigrants from Turkey have only themselves to blame for their plight because they are the ones who don't want to integrate. In the final calculation, this theory holds, many have already been here for decades, but far too many abandon schools or work agencies without degrees or jobs. So why can't Turks do what Aussiedler (ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) have handled with ease?"
"This reproaching view of Turkish immigrants suffers from forgetfulness. All the way into the 1970s, the so-called guest workers were intentionally brought to Germany to be a new underclass that performed the jobs that Germans found too dangerous or too dirty. The majority of them arrived with no degrees and no training; some family members couldn't even read. Can people seriously expect that the children of these individuals will now populate German universities? When it comes to successful integration, the Turks should be measured in the same way as other immigrants lacking training or jobs."
The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
"Perhaps even more significant than the Berlin Institute's study is the reaction of (Bekir Alboga) the 'dialogue delegate' of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) to the findings. (Alboga) said that, for one thing, 'it is not possible to scientifically prove' the obvious shortcomings in the integration of the Turkish-German population and, secondly, that it can be attributed to discrimination in schools. Enough of such excuses. For a long time, it has been adequately documented that the children of immigrants perform more poorly in school than the children of German natives. Nor is there any need to give any more statistical evidence to the fact that immigrants are more frequently unemployed and disproportionately represented in the low-wage sector. A lot is being done in terms of integration policies, especially when it comes to increased support for language training. But while other groups of immigrants have been able to eke out a place for themselves in society despite adverse circumstances, the especially large Turkish population is conspicuous for its lack of integration. Perhaps DITIB should no longer close its eyes to this fact as well."
The conservative Die Welt writes:
"Not even a day went by before the results of the integration study were already fragmented into the usual readings depending on the political leanings or lobby affiliations of the observer. At the same time, it cannot seriously surprise anyone that Turkish-Germans were by far the most poorly integrated immigrant ethnic group. And it is no more surprising that the Essen Center for Turkish Studies should come out with the same old reassuring formulas, such as the one that warns that 'integration competition between various population groups' can 'poison' peaceful co-existence. "
"But whoever believes that people should be shielded from too much pressure to integrate is not doing anyone any favors -- and particularly not for Turkish dropouts, whose numbers are five times the national average."
"Part of the problem -- and not part of the solution -- is once again the kind of things heard from the 'dialogue delegate' of the Cologne-based mosque association DITIB. For example, the delegate claims the results of the integration study are not scientifically tenable, and he rather imaginatively claims that there is 'hardly any line of work that is not represented by very exemplary Turkish-German individuals. Are we supposed to gather from this that everything is fine in the mosques and that there is no more need to discuss these troubling study results?"
"Much more helpful and touching upon the crux of the problem is what Dieter Wiefelspütz, the domestic policy spokesman for the Social Democrats, brings to the debate. He speaks of the necessity of having 'catch-up integration' and, in doing so, gets much closer to the reality -- particularly of those in school -- than immigrant interest groups do. For this reason, at least with this target group, broadening the authority of communal immigrant advisory councils might be attractive to voters. But it won't accomplish anything as long as these councils continue to shield their constituents from being held to account."
The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:
"Integration has two sides. The behavior of the societal majority must also be examined. Just attributing all the failings to immigrants is not enough. That is what the Wolfgang Schäubles and the Maria Böhmers (Germany's interior minister and commissioner for integration, respectively) do when they continue to demand that Turkish-Germans learn German, do more to help educate their children and not allow forced marriages. However correct these appeals might be, the state also needs to do something -- and provide the necessary funding as well. Where are the social workers who look after students at risk? Where are the kindergarten teachers who try to teach good German to all the toddlers? And where are the help centers and women's shelters that can assist Turkish women in danger? The plans are all there. But what is missing in these times of financial crisis is money -- and political will."