Germany translates its constitution into Arabic to help refugees integrate

Refugees read documents a at the Patrick-Henry Village refugee center, a former U.S. military facility in Heidelberg, Germany September 29, 2015. © Ralph Orlowski
Germany has translated the first 20 articles of the country’s constitution outlining basic rights and freedoms into Arabic to assist the incoming refugees in their integration into the German society.

Germany has so far printed 10,000 copies of its constitution in Arabic, aiming to distribute them in the refugee centers across the country.

Asylum seekers are welcome in Germany, but they have to adapt to the German way of life and to make effort to become part of the country’s society, German Vice-Chancellor and the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel, said in an interview to the German Bild daily.

"People who come here must not only learn the German language, but also learn the rules of the game of living together," Gabriel said adding that “the first 20 articles of our [German] constitution are what shape our [German] culture.”

He said he was sure that the measures aimed at integration of refugees neither infringed their rights nor undermined their freedoms and at the same time protect traditional German values as he addressed the worries commonly expressed by German citizens and politicians.

"No one is forced, when he comes to Germany, to change his religion, to alter his private life. But what is important for our culture is that the principles of our democratic society apply to everyone," Gabriel said.

At the same time, he added that refugees have to accept and respect the principles of the division of church and state and of equal rights for men and women, as well as the freedom of expression and the right to freely express one's sexual identity. He specially emphasized that Germany did not tolerate anti-Semitism.

The German government has also addressed private companies seeking their assistance in its integration efforts and many enterprises offered their help, including the engineering giant, Siemens. It launched a program providing internships for refugees aimed at helping them to integrate into German society.

On September 24, the German government additionally allocated €2 billion ($2.24 billion) for refugee housing, with €500 million ($560 million) to be spent on the construction of new accommodation centers. Local authorities seek to provide more housing space for refugees by turning empty commercial properties and empty apartments into shelters.

Germany has already taken in about 500,000 asylum seekers this year and is expected to host from 800,000 to one million refugees by the year’s end, as reported by the German media.

However, not all in Germany are happy about the country’s efforts to help refugees, as mobs have attacked more than 400 facilities designed to host asylum seekers this year. German domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), warns of the rise of far-right as well as far-left extremism in the country.

“What we're seeing in connection with the refugee crisis is a mobilization on the street of right-wing extremists, but also of some left-wing extremists,” the head of the BfV, Hans-Georg Maassen told German public radio Deutschlandfunk on Sunday.

His interview came amid anti-refugee rallies in several German regions. Last week such rallies in the country’s eastern region of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania attended by more than 1,000 people ended up in clashes with counter-protesters, in which three people were injured.

In the German eastern city of Leipzig, an anti-Islam rally organized by the right-wing movement “Offensive for Germany” and attended by about 400 provoked a counter-protest that gather more than 1,000 people.

The mass influx of refugees itself has been a matter of concern in other EU countries. It has been recently revealed that almost one third of asylum seekers coming to Europe have forged Syrian passports and IDs to make naturalization easier. At the same time, this situation complicates the identification and registration process and makes crisis even worse.

Additionally, European governments are concerned with the possibility of the rise of Islamism in Europe and growing activity of the Jihadist groups trying to exploit the suffering of refugees and make them join the terrorists.

Germany’s domestic security agency estimates that the number of Islamist radicals in the country had risen from approximately 7,500 in June up to around 7,900 in September, while there had only been some 3,800 in 2011.

According to the International Organization for Migration, about 552,000 refugees and migrants have come to Europe since the beginning of the year. About 3,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempt to reach European continent. Most of those coming to Europe are Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis; however, many also come from African countries such as Nigeria or Eritrea.

Greece took in most of them, hosting around 388,000 people, while Italy accepted about 130,000 people. About 50,000 people came to Europe just after September 17.