Integration through culture: Can Germany go beyond empty promises? | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 29.05.2018
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Integration through culture: Can Germany go beyond empty promises?

For their first conference, the Initiative for Cultural Integration is to discuss how refugees can better integrate in German society. The topics being discussed include freedom of religion and workplace conditions.

Without cultural integration, there is no future for Germany, wrote Olaf Zimmermann, director of the German Cultural Council on the website of the Initiative for Cultural Integration (Initiative kulturelle Integration). Together with 26 associations, he had launched the initiative in December 2016.

The first annual meeting of the initiative is held in Berlin on Tuesday. Representatives of various associations are to discuss different cultural and social issues, such as how religious symbols are dealt with in public or the importance of civic engagement for democracy.

The controversial concept of "Leitkultur" (Germany's so-called leading culture) was consciously avoided on the initiative's website. Former German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere had triggered a fierce debate by speaking out for the concept a year ago.  

Read more: Merkel: My A-Z on what it means to be German

The initiative nevertheless aims to promote the integration of refugees through cultural values. Fifteen theses were developed in collaboration with different affiliated organizations from the fields of religion, media, culture or politics.

Germany's constitution, the Basic Law, serves as the main reference for these guidelines promoting social integration while stressing gender equality, encouraging voluntary work, allowing religious diversity to be visible in the public sphere and promoting artistic freedom.

The results of the #gibmireinzeichen (give me a sign) action are also to be presented on Tuesday. From January to April 2018, those interested could send in a picture, music or even a word they associate with their idea of social cohesion.



The three best proposals among 780 proposals will be presented in Berlin, and a winning drawing will be selected to serve as the initiative's new logo.


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