German Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy has attracted praise from all over the world. Time magazine and the Financial Times newspaper recently named her Person of the Year, and delegates applauded her for so long at her party's convention on Monday that she had to stop them.
The speech that followed, however, may have surprised supporters of her policies: Multiculturalism remains a sham, she said, before adding that Germany may be reaching its limits in terms of accepting more refugees. "The challenge is immense," she said. "We want and we will reduce the number of refugees noticeably."
Although those remarks may seem uncharacteristic of Merkel, she probably would insist that she was not contradicting herself. In fact, she was only repeating a sentiment she first voiced several years ago when she said multiculturalism in Germany had "utterly failed."
"Of course the tendency had been to say, 'Let's adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other.' But this concept has failed, and failed utterly," she said in 2010.
Repeating those ideas on Monday was meant to calm her supporters who have grown increasingly weary of the influx of refugees. Newcomers, Merkel stressed, should assimilate to German values and culture, and respect the country's laws.
Merkel's comments may also reflect a particular understanding of assimilation. Many Germans expect immigrants to quickly learn the German language and to contribute to their communities and work life.
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