“Whether or not you want us in the European Union, our influence in Europe is growing. We are more numerous. We are younger. We are stronger.”
A second-generation Muslim immigrant in Austria has authored a provocative new book in which he argues that Europe’s future is Turkish, whether Europeans like it or not.
The book’s short, sharp and confrontational title says it all: “We are Coming.”
The thesis is: “Regardless of whether or not you [Europeans] like us [Turks], whether or not you integrate us, whether or not you want us in the European Union, our influence in Europe is growing. We are more numerous. We are younger. We are more ambitious. Our economy is growing faster. We are stronger.”
The author, a 25-year-old Austrian-Turk named Inan Türkmen, says his objective in writing the book is to change the terms of the debate about Muslim immigration in Europe.
Türkmen — who was born in Austria to Kurdish migrants and speaks fluent German — says he is sick and tired of the way Turkish immigrants are being portrayed in the European media. He believes the time has come for Turks to fight back.
Taking a page from the playbook of the American Tea Party movement, Türkmen says he wants to establish an “angry citizen movement” (Wutbürgerbewegung) in Europe. His Turkish Tea Party would unite Turkish immigrants in Austria, Germany and other European countries to protest against European “arrogance.”
In an interview with the Vienna-based newspaper Die Presse, Türkmen says he decided to write “We are Coming” after getting “hot under the collar” over a recent book about Muslim immigration by the renowned German economist Thilo Sarrazin.
Sarrazin’s best-selling book, “Germany Does Away With Itself,” broke Germany’s long-standing taboo on discussing the impact of Muslim immigration. The book, which was first published in August 2010, is now on its 22nd edition. At last count, more than two million copies have been sold, making it one of the most widely read titles in Germany since the Second World War.
Sarrazin’s book has resonated with vast numbers of ordinary Germans who are becoming increasingly uneasy about the social changes that are transforming Germany, largely due to the presence of millions of non-integrated Muslims in the country.
The following are some excerpts from Sarrazin’s book:
“In every European country, due to their low participation in the labor market and high claim on state welfare benefits, Muslim migrants cost the state more than they generate in added economic value. In terms of culture and civilization, their notions of society and values are a step backwards.”
“No other religion in Europe is so demanding and no other migration group depends so much on the social welfare state and is so much connected to criminality.”
“Most of the cultural and economic problems [in Germany] are concentrated in a group of the five to six million immigrants from Muslim countries.”
“I do not want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in a mostly Muslim country where Turkish and Arabic are widely spoken, women wear headscarves and the day’s rhythm is determined by the call of the muezzin.”
“If the birthrate of migrants remains higher than that of the indigenous population, within a few generations, the migrants will take over the state and society.”
“I do not want us to end up as strangers in our own land, not even on a regional basis.”
“From today’s perspective, the immigration of guest workers in the 1960s and 1970s was a gigantic mistake.”
The roots of Germany’s current problems with Muslim immigration can be traced back to October 30, 1961, with the signing of a labor recruitment agreement between West Germany and Turkey. At the time, West Germany’s post-World War II economy was booming and similar treaties with Greece, Italy and Spain were insufficient to supply Germany’s seemingly endless demand for labor. By the end of 1969, more than one million Turkish “guest workers” had arrived in Germany to work in the “host country’s” industrial zones.
The initial idea was that the Turkish laborers would return home after a period of two years, but the so-called “rotation clause” was removed from the German-Turkish treaty in 1964, partly due to pressure from German industry, which did not want to pay the costs of constantly training new workers. The predictable result was that many Turks never returned home.
Today, the Turkish population in Germany has mushroomed to an estimated 3.5 million, and Turks now constitute the largest ethnic minority group in the country. Demographers expect that the Turkish population in Germany will increase exponentially in coming decades, largely due to a high birth rate and Germany’s continuing high demand for foreign workers.
Germany’s demand for foreign labor is being fuelled by a demographic crisis in which the German population is not only ageing, but also shrinking, at a rapid pace. According to projections by the German Federal Statistics Office, Germany’s current population of 82 million, the largest in the European Union, is set to decline by as much as 20%, to 65 million, over the next five decades. At the same time, 34% of the population will be older than 65 and 14% will be 80 or more by 2060, up from 20% and 5% respectively in 2009.
The twin challenges of depopulation and aging will have major consequences for the financial sustainability of Germany’s cradle-to-grave social security system. For example, the number of pensioners that will have to be supported by working-age people could almost double by 2060, according to the Federal Statistics Office. While 100 people of working age between 20 and 65 had to provide the pensions for 34 retired people in 2009, they will have to generate income for between 63 and 67 pensioners in 2060.
This implies that in the future, Germany will become more, not less, dependent on immigrants. And Turks will continue to be a major source of labor, considering that the birth rate among Turkish immigrants in Germany is 2.4, nearly double that of the native German population (which at 1.38 is far below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple).
Time is on the side of the Turks and Inan Türkmen knows it. In a highly confrontational essay titled “You Germans Need the Turks more than the Turks Need You” which was published by the Financial Times Deutschland, Türkmen writes: “Our consolation is that Turkish influence in Europe is growing and there is nothing you Europeans can do to stop it. Of course, Turkey has always exerted influence on Europe. Mozart, Hayden and Beethoven were all inspired by Turkish music. Soon you will not even realize it because you will all be a little Turkish. People mix into cultures and I am planning to contribute something to make this happen. Up until now, all of my girlfriends have been European, not Turkish. In the future, freckles will become increasingly rare sight in Europe. The point is: The future belongs to Turkey.”