I am a war veteran and have seen genocides and other atrocities… This burdens me a lot and I simply do not understand why people are discriminated based on their origin, treated differently based on their culture or different eating habits or even different taste of music… I cannot comprehend it…

Daniel Wirtz

In Cologne there are lots of immigrants and in some neighborhoods live only migrants. This is very sad. That is the reason I joined the work group “Migration and Diversity” (AG Migration und Vielfalt) of the SPD in Cologne.

I truly believe that the cultures should be mixing and that it is everyone’s responsibility to treat people equally.

Of course, living abroad I would maybe also like to surround myself with people who speak my language and share my culture, but let’s be honest: this isn’t the case here. Migrants are pushed in these neighborhoods, jammed together in poor living conditions and left completely alone with their culture and lives. This is nonsense and it’s quite obvious that the cultures are not mixing in such conditions.

What can you do to change this situation?

The solution is, as usually when similar problems are arising, education. In these neighborhoods the schools are all ailing and unable to cope with the situation.

But what can we personally do to change the situation: we can communicate and always try to representatively ignore the differences: treat people equally no matter what.

However, I do notice that even for some very open-minded people it’s still a conscious decision to treat everybody equally and not always something that comes naturally.

Integration only works if both parties give an effort. Do you sometimes have the feeling that one side is not giving that effort?

I wouldn’t put it this way, but indeed everybody has to give an effort.

There was a case in Kalk, where a local Muslim association insisted on focusing entirely on Islam. But this is wrong: Migration and diversity doesn’t equal Islam. There has to be some balance: not only religion-centered communication, but also concentrating on other aspects that matter. This is important not only for the integration process, but also to fight against right-extremist movements and I mean every kind of right-extremists.

This is the duty of everyone: all religions, Jewish, Christians, Muslims and also secular people and atheists.

Especially considering tradition centered cultures that have a problem with, let’s say, homosexuality – they need to work on it as well, to give an effort to not to discriminate people or treat them differently, not to judge them. Nobody is in this situation the bad or the good guy. This communication effort concerns absolutely each and everyone of us.

What do you think of the PEGIDA movement?

It is a fear canalised in racism. Let’s be honest: it is racism.

First, I think they do not actually understand the problem and are turning into bigots. Second, what they notice is, for example, skin color. A person can be 10th generation German, but when he or she looks “southern” then this person is in PEGIDA’s eyes automatically evil. And let’s say this southern looking person, who is 10th generation German, becomes an offender, which could happen to any other German, then these people point a finger at foreigners – clearly, they must be guilty. This is nonsense. “White” immigrants wouldn’t even disturb them, they wouldn’t even notice them. So this is a typical cheap racism.

Is multiculturalism dead?

No. An experiment would be the best way to prove it: let’s say everyone with migration background in Cologne area would collectively skip the work…. I would like to see how long this city would function in this case or how much this would cost.


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