/ 14th Berlin Speech on Freedom with Ahmad Mansour
Clear commitments, pragmatic actions and humanist principles must be the central pillars of integration policy. Ahmad Mansour speaks more openly than most people about the challenges facing Germany as an immigration country. The psychology and extremism expert accepted the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s invitation to give the 14th Berlin Speech on Freedom. Traditionally held at the Allianz Forum, last year’s event was livestreamed without a live audience from the venue of Brandenburg Gate as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Mansour talked about integration being the ‘challenge of the century’ that can only be overcome if everyone upholds and defends open society values. He also spoke about the importance of embracing integration, advocating a liberal democracy that embraces tolerance – and a discussion culture that allows different opinions to be expressed. After his speech the guest speaker talked to Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Deputy Chairwoman of the Management Board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the FPD parliamentary party’s internal affairs spokesperson Konstantin Kuhle, MP in the Bundestag.
/ Excerpt from the Speech
“For me, it was a very challenging experience to find myself in a country where I was unable to participate and unable to speak the language. It was like being in a parallel society. Again. Not because I wanted to be there, but because I had no alternative. I was curious to learn about the majority society, but I had no way of accessing it. That’s why I am so proud to be standing here today as one of a series of amazing individuals who have had the privilege to give this speech. And I hope that I am worthy of being on this list. It marks a milestone for me because I now feel that I have really arrived ... I’ve arrived at a point where I can help to shape society. Help to create a better future for myself, my daughter, my family, my team and for the people who I support and interact with. A future without a lack of freedom. A future without uncertainties and divisions. There does seem to be more extremism in Germany than there was when I arrived 15 years ago, but it’s just a phase. And I’m counting on all the democrats, all the people at the centre of society, to face up to the challenge of restoring community to our society.
We have to create a community of values that promotes a sense of togetherness and, rather than excluding people, invites people to be a part of something…What counts – and I’m drawing on my own personal experience here – is to arrive emotionally. I know a lot of people who are physically here in Germany, but have not arrived yet emotionally. Why? Because integration is more than language plus work minus criminality. Integration is about internalising, understanding and viewing this society’s values as an opportunity. The dividing line should not be between people who have a migration background and those who do not, but between democrats and non-democrats. That line should reunite us and create a society that knows exactly what it expects of people who want to live here, and invites those people to be a part of that society. And to make that happen we need a macrosocial concept. Yes, integration is an obligation.”
// Through listening and understanding we can bridge supposedly unsurmountable barriers and fronts and, occasionally, we can break them down. That is encouraging. An open society is the objective, and the way to achieving it is open dialogue.