United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called on the citizens of Europe to show more tolerance toward immigrants and warned against politicians who play on people’s fears and target Muslims in pursue of their personal interests.
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasburg, Ban warned of a dangerous new trend that was emerging – politicians who play on the public’s fear and accuse immigrants of violating European values, although in many cases they are the ones who distort these values and the essence of the European citizen as a result.
Ban warned that the darkest chapters in European history began with similar language, and stressed that Europe and the world cannot afford to turn a blind eye to stereotypes and hatred that is ethnically based.
The UN chief added that Europe’s biggest challenge in the 21st century is the challenge of domestic tolerance, noting that immigrants suffer from unemployment, discrimination, and disproportional inequality of opportunity in education and the job market.
The question of Europe’s identity has been rigorously debated due to the flood of immigrants the continent has been facing in recent years.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stirred a row when she declared Germany’s multiculturalism model of integration has failed, adding that immigrants should be demanded to learn the German language and assimilate into society.
A poll published last week in Germany indicated that 58% of the public believed that the practice of Islam should be substantially limited in the country, while more than half of the respondents said they could sympathize with the claim that Arabs arouse unpleasant sentiments.
The debate has also swept France, after the National Assembly approved an amendment the country’s citizenship act, which enables France to revoke an immigrant’s citizenship if he is convicted of assaulting a public servant – an act which was previously limited to extreme offences such as involvement in terror activities.