Germany has translated the first 20 articles of the country’s constitution, which outline basic rights like freedom of speech, into Arabic for refugees to help them integrate.
Germany is struggling to cope with an expected influx of some 800,000 people this year, both economic migrants and asylum seekers fleeing war in the Middle East and Africa.
Aside from the cost and practicalities of looking after so many people — almost one percent of Germany’s population — many voters are worried about how they will integrate into society.
Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, also chairman of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), told Bild daily that refugees were welcome but that they have to make an effort to fit in.
“People who come here must not only learn the German language, but also learn the rules of the game of living together,” Gabriel told the newspaper.
“I am convinced that the first 20 articles of our constitution are what shape our culture,” he said, adding Germany had printed 10,000 copies for distribution among refugees at registration centres.
Germany’s “Basic Law” was adopted in 1949 and sets out the principles which underpin the legal system and the division of power between central government and 16 regional states.
“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 added.
Refugees had to accept principles such as the division of church and state, equal rights for men and women, the right to be homosexual and freedom of expression, he said. He also pointed out that anti-Semitism is not tolerated in Germany.