Shedding the reluctance of its neighbors who have been much less welcoming, Germany has already taken in some 500,000 refugees this year, with about 300,000 more expected to seek asylum. In an effort to encourage assimilation, the first 20 articles of the German constitution were printed in Arabic for refugees.
While many have praised its willingness to accept those fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, the cost and pragmatism behind that have been a concern for Germans. Their ability to integrate with little knowledge of the German culture and language has also been a source of worry, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said.
Speaking to German daily Bild, Gabriel noted that while no one would be forced to change their religion or practices, new arrivals are expected to respect democratic values, including the separation of church and state, gender equality, LGBT rights and freedom of expression.
"There is a culture of freedom and responsibility, of rights and duties, which we don't want to give up," Gabriel told the newspaper. "People who come here must not only learn the German language, but also the rules of the game of living together."
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Germany has undertaken a number of efforts to help assimilate the refugees to curb rising anti-immigration sentiment that Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against.
In August, German newspapers printed leaflets in Arabic to help newcomers enroll their children in school, apply for government assistance and find shelters. The government has also set up free language and culture classes to help the refugees speed up integration.
Gabriel told Bild that 10,000 copies of the constitution in Arabic will be handed out at registration centers. "I am convinced that the first 20 articles of our constitution are what shape our culture," he added.
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