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ON THIS PAGE: German mayors say their cities are ready to receive refugees ||| European cities with large Muslim populations ||| Sunday trading laws in Britain and Germany |||
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|German mayors say their cities
are ready to receive refugees
Research 2015: Mayors of Germany’s largest cities are confident that their communities can cope with the arrival of thousands of refugees this winter. The news magazine Der Spiegel asked the mayors of the 30 largest German cities, which are home to some 18 million people, whether they were prepared for the influx. Surprisingly, as the researchers found out, the mayors agree with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who famously said earlier this year that Germany could cope with the arrival of an estimated 800,000 refugees this year. Out of the 30 mayors questioned, only three considered themselves overwhelmed and spoke of a crisis.
Hannover’s Mayor Stefan Schostok said the city’s institution were well prepared and there was no reason to panic, while the mayors of Augsburg and Mannheim insisted to be ready to care for considerable numbers of refugees. Marcel Philipp, Mayor of Aachen, said his city would practise ‘humanity in action’. His colleague from Nürnberg emphasised his city had a tried and tested system to integrate migrants. Only two mayors felt the number of refugees should be capped. The Mayor of Braunschweig believes that the arrival of refugees at the current rate is unsustainable.
The greatest challenge is to find suitable accommodation during the winter months. All mayors agreed that tent cities are unacceptable and most cities are trying to avoid housing large numbers of refugees at single locations. “Cities that succeed in housing small groups of refugees across the whole area face considerably fewer social problems.” Stuttgart has housed 4,400 refugees at 81 accommodations in 18 different districts. Aachen, Chemnitz, Leipzig and Wuppertal have provided the majority of refugees with their own apartments. Bielefeld and Dresden have passed by-laws that allow the municipalities to seize un-occupied commercial spaces. Bremen and Hamburg are planning similar laws.
All mayors questioned by Der Spiegel rate the relationship between local citizens and newcomers as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Many mayors are particularly proud of the engagement of hundreds of volunteers, while others emphasise the already multi-ethnic make-up of their cities. A spokesman for Frankfurt said: “We are a multi-cultural city where refugees just don’t stick out.”
Most of the questioned mayors favour long-term integration of refugees and are convinced that the newcomers provide their cities with more opportunities than challenges. "Given the looming labour and skills shortage, Germany and is dependent on immigration," explained the Mayor of Düsseldorf. Only two cities favour faster deportation.
(Research: Der Spiegel and Der Spiegel online)
Asylum applications in selected European countries
(July to September 2015)
European cities with
large Muslim populations
Research 2015: The US-based Pew Research Center found that in 2010 the number of Muslims in Europe, excluding Turkey but including countries like Albania and Kosovo, totalled 44 million or six per cent of the European population. The number of Muslims in European Union countries was approximately 19 million or 3.8 per cent of the EU population.
But Muslims in Europe are not a homogeneous group. The majority of Muslims originate from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey or the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and, more recently, from the war-torn Middle East. They left their homelands for a great variety of reasons including political and cultural persecution, economic aspiration, security concerns and as a consequence of Britain’s withdrawal from India and Pakistan after World War II and France’s decision to grant independence to its North African territories during the 1950s (Morocco and Tunisia) and 1960s (Algeria).
European cities with large Muslim populations*
Muslims in Germany
The German office for migration and refugees found that there are between 3.8 million and 4.3 million Muslims living in Germany, making up about five per cent of the entire German population. It was previously estimated that there were between 3 million and 3.5 million Muslims living here.
More than half of Muslims in Germany originate from Turkey. As many as 2.7 million Turkish people are living in Germany, making up more than three per cent of the population. Another 600,000 Muslim people come from south-eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Just under half, or 45 per cent, of Muslim migrants are foreign-born but now hold a German passport. Yet when it comes to integration, there still deep deficits. Concerning education, Muslims were found to be particularly conservative, making integration of children difficult. Ten per cent of Muslim girls are kept home from school trips, another seven per cent are withdrawn from swimming lessons and 15 per cent are exempt from sexual education classes for religious reasons. However, more than three-quarters of those surveyed would welcome Islamic religion courses in the schools.
The researchers found that integration in schools improved significantly with second generation Muslims, or those born in Germany.
The majority of Muslims in Germany attend Mosque services “rarely to never”, while only a third go regularly. Only 30 per cent of Muslims here wear the politically-disputed head scarf, and usually pass the tradition down to their children.
The German study questioned 6,004 people from originally 49 Muslim countries living in Germany about everything from origin to religion to integration - for themselves and their families, bringing the total number of people covered by the study to 17,000. Almost all Muslims in Germany 98 per cent live in the former western states and eastern parts of Berlin. (Data is based on 2010 findings)
Sunday trading laws in
Britain and Germany
Research 2015: Following the recent 2015 post-election Budget, UK Chancellor (finance minister) George Osborne announced that English and Welsh local authorities, as well as new ‘metro mayors’, would be permitted to vary Sunday trading hours in order to boost their local economies, if local areas consider this to be beneficial. This was later confirmed in an August government consultation document. Currently larger retail stores are limited to six hours trading on Sundays, with the law last amended in 1994. During the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, the six hour Sunday trading restriction for large retailers was temporarily lifted for six weeks, resulting in a significant increase in sales.
The Chancellor George Osborne said: “There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday. The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend. But this won't be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities,”
Under the 1994 legislation, a distinction is made between large and small shops in respect of permissible trading hours. Large shops (over 280 square metres) can open Monday to Saturday without restrictions. On Sundays, opening is restricted to six continual hours between 10am and 6pm. All large shops must close on Easter Sunday and on Christmas Day. In contrast, there are no opening restrictions for small shops (under 280 square metres). In effect, a small shop can open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including Easter Sunday and Christmas Day, if the owner so wishes.
The nearest comparator for variable Sunday trading laws is Germany, where retailing restrictions vary by state. For most of the post-war era, retail opening hours were a matter for “concurrent” legislation where both the federal government and the states could legislate. In 1956, a federal law was passed which distinguished between regular weekday opening (allowed between 6am and 8pm), and Sundays and Bank Holidays (opening only allowed in certain, limited sectors, otherwise on four Sundays a year for five hours).
As part of a package of reforms to the federal system in 1994, the ability of the federal government to pass concurrent legislation was restricted, save only to maintain equivalent living conditions or achieve legal or economy unity. A ruling issued by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2004 clarified that shop opening hours did not meet the criteria set out in the Basic Law for the national legislation to be passed. This verdict influenced legislators and in 2006 reforms to the German federal system squarely passed power from the federal government to the states
Sunday trading laws in Germany - by state
Data: Ed Turner, Aston University/LSE