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European backlash over multiculturalism


As popular unrest stirs up Northern Africa, there are fears of a fresh wave of immigrants flocking to the EU. But the Old World is not waiting for them with open arms.

Western leaders have, one by one, admitted the policy of multiculturalism in Europe is not working.

It's official - multiculturalism in Europe has failed. The heads of state are now admitting what many observers and radicals have been saying for some time.

"Multiculturalism will only function if people coming to the country will have a job, have their own money and feel responsible for the community. Otherwise, they are jobless people who lead a passive life with social welfare," says Arnold Mengelkoch from Copenhagen.

And the passive approach can sometimes evolve into extreme action. Denmark is home to more than half a million immigrants - making up almost ten per cent of the population. Odense, a quiet Danish town, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, one of the world's best-known storytellers. But the story unfolding here has nothing magical about it.

Clashes between Danes and groups of Somali and Palestinian youth have rattled this neighbourhood for more than a year. Locals say car burnings and violence between immigrants and police are a familiar sight,

One neighbourhood and two different worlds. And the voices are being raised about doing something before the situation gets out of hand, but the situation remains far from being a fairy tale.

There have been some suggestions on how to ease the tensions.

"If we take those three hundred people and split them all over the city with help from the state and the police and kick them out of the country - we won’t have any problems," says Alex Ahrendtsen, Odense City Council member.

But some immigrants believe the main issue is in the definition of integration,

"The Danes think that integration means becoming fully Danish. Immigrants have to eat, drink and live just like Danes," says Gassan Khorani, civil engineer in Odense.

So perhaps until this difference in expectations is resolved, the cultural tensions in Europe will persist. But admitting that the problem exists may be the first step on the way to finding a solution.


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