tv Worldfocus PBS March 24, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT
tonight on "worldfocus." >> we look at the issue of immigration. not only highly divisive in the united states. in europe we'll look at it. in germany where plans to build a new mosque drew a powerful response from the right. in spain, it's all about jobs. once welcomed, some immigrants are now scorned as unemployment goes sky high. in south africa the anti-immigrant backlash is also about economics. it comes from south africa's poorest people. from the different perspectives of reporters and analysts around the globe, this is "worldfocus." major support has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the
peterson p. peterson foundation. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters. we're going to take an in depth look tonight at the issue of immigration. as you may have seen there was a big rally over the weekend in washington. calling on congress to pass reforms that would give legal status to millions of people here illegally many working in jobs that americans don't want. while we tend to think of immigration as an american issue within the debate about immigration goes far beyond the country's borders. tonight we begin with several stories from europe where the muslim population has swelled in recent years and relations between immigrants and native-born europeans is often uneasy. >> reporter: the eiffel tower, that enduring symbol that seems
to somehow define paris. if you were to stand at the top and look out, you can see some of the city's famous sites, the arc de triomphe, the louvre, and the bustling street cafes. if you look more closely, you might just be able to see the paris suburbs in the distance in places like epinay. everything about this picture suggests ordinary, a peaceful suburb. it could be anywhere. three years ago epinay and nearby suburbs were seething, riots. cars burning. clashes with police. they were angry young people, mostly from the largely north african community in france. there was literally a ring of fire around paris. raba knows. he was there. >> fights between kids and cops, cars burning, a lot of trouble.
like a little civil war. >> reporter: the violence spread across the country. the prime minister declared state emergency. thousands of people were brought in. but it was brought under control by people like raba, born in algeria, he emigrated to france with his parents when he was 4. he did time in prison for dealing drugs but eventually anged his ways. by 2005 he was a respected lead they are this working class suburb, and the local authorities thought he might be able to help calm things down. they were right. it is for raba a source of pain and he bitterly notes the irony of how the authorities had to turn to him, the kuns convicted drug dealer, when things got hot. >> translator: i do my best to feel french, he says, to convince myself that i am french. but he says, "the treatment i
received from all institutions, the discrimination goes against my efforts to feel french." >> in the french complex we refer to french citizens as member of minority groups as being a generation of immigrants. the strongest way to tell them you do not belong. >> reporter: and so in the mostly arab suburbs, there is a strong feeling of alienation. these youths don't admit to taking part in the riots, only that they were there. ask thembout french society, the contempt is plain to see. do you feel french? >> translator: no. >> reporter: do you feel french? >> translator: no. >> reporter: the world they all live in is a world away from the paris you know. raba took me on a tour of this world and within a few minutes it was apparent how different it is. this is gangland. they asked raba what we're doing
and said they don't like cameras. raba doesn't flinch and reminds the youngster that he was on the streets before he was born and to tell his bosses that he said hello. we drive on. the clinic where raba was born closed now. he says because people just didn't have the money to pay for medical treatment. the closest clinic now is ten miles away. "i guess nobody will be born in epinay anymore", he jokes. he took me to his old high school. for him, the education system is the biggest failure. he says, "for my first three years in high school, i was never in a class where we finished the program." talk to the school-age kids today and it seems things haven't changed. they take young teachers just out of school, he says. "they send them here and they're not prepared to deal with the problems.
teachers go on strike and very often are not even present." two generations who both say that the education system in this arab immigrant community is dead. raba says it killed his dream. he wanted to be a surgeon. a dream fulfilled by this doctor, grandson of an algerian laborer. now one of the top cardiologists in france. >> of course it's not easy when you're from algeria in france. you know that. that's not easy at all. but you can do it. but it's more difficult for you. >> reporter: layla is a successful algerian author. she has lived in paris the last 17 years. but she says she sees examples of discrimination almost every day. >> if you talk in arab on a bus in paris, they look at you. they are not happy. >> reporter: as for raba, he says it's fine if you're
exceptional, perhaps a great athlete. "for a guy like me, if i win the world cup or a gold medal, people will call me the frenchman," he says. if you get caught drunk driving, they call you the frenchman of algerian origin. perhaps a soccer star will emerge from this league in paris, although that's not the point. raba started it a few years ago because he wanted to teach players how to be good citizens. "it's not easy. they may be citizens of france but they don't feel accepted by society. raba isn't sure how much longer he can keep them playing soccer and off the street. i'm martin seemungal reporting for "worldfocus" in paris. anti-immigrant sentiment in
europe found a prominent focal point in the german city of cologne over plans to build a large mosque in that city. martin seemungal found that while most people seem to support the mosque, they also found them opposed by a vocal group of right wing opponents. >> reporter: when you cross rhine driving into cologne, you can't help but see it, the enormous cathedral. for centuries, a place of worship and a powerful symbol of christian europe. it is, in fact, the greatest gothic cathedral in all of germany. but germany and cities like cologne are not as purely european or as christian as they once were. about 50 years ago turkish immigrants started arriving, mostly as laborers to work in the fa and with them, came islam. 120,000 muslims live in cologne today. that's more than 1 in 10 citizens. but take a look at tt skyline
again. not one minaret or dome to be seen. the call to prayer in cologne may be muffled, but every friday, hundreds of believers still answer it. right now, this is where the turkish community comes to pray. it's an old pharmaceutical factory. the problem is it's not big enough for all the worshipers. and if they have any kind of special event, they have to hold it here in the parking lot. they plan to keep praying on this site for years to come, but not in this building. they're going to tear it down and build a bigger mosque, a mosque that will look like a mosque. this is a model. "i'm overjoyed," she says. "i'm looking forward to it." it will cost over $30 million to build. most of the money will come from the turkish government. no public german money will be used. but of course it still had to be
approved by city hall. and it got the fullbacking of the mayor. >> i'm proud of it because i'm -- as the mayor, i'm responsible for friendly living together in this city, peaceful living together. >> reporter: talk to people on the street and you get the sense most people support it. >> i think the turkish people living in germany since generations, they have to have their churches. they have to have their mosques. >> reporter: but if these people have their way, the mosque won't even get off the drawing board. this is the weekly meeting of pro cologne. it is a right wing organization, and it is planning a series of protests against the mosque. they have taken to the streets at least once before, only to be blocked by a spirited demonstration from a left wing organization in favor of the mosque. so spirited, the police had to be called in.
these right wingers are often written off as small, a fringe group. but it is an expression of a fundamental fear in traditional europe. fear of the outsiders, those of a different culture. this blogger hears all about those fierce ears. he calls himself millus and his blog about the mosque gets 2,000 hits a day. a lot of the comment he says has to be deleted. >> really, really bad things like let's kill these people and stuff like that. i cannot allow it. >> reporter: but he says judging by the comments, the majority of the people are actually in favor of the mosque. >> a small group against it. people who say it's a bad thing. they say it's -- >> reporter: there's an important fact that often gets forgotten here. there are actually already about 50 mosques here in cologne, maybe even more. but they are small, often in
people's homes. you could walk past it on the street and not even know it. they are low-key, temporary. but a new multimillion-dollar mosque is something completely different. it makes a statement. it says, we are here, and we are here to stay. which scares those people not used to outsiders, worried that their tradition, their culture might be threatened. the right wing exploits that fear. the new mosque, they warn, is just the beginning of what they call the islamization of europe. >> in certain meetings we had certain islamic people who said, it doesn't matter. in 20 years we'll take over anyway. which frightens me really because immigrants are guests. like when somebody comes to your home and likes your living room and says in ten years it's mine. what would you do? >> reporter: easy to see how the fear would breed suspicion and lead to rumor. the head of the turkish association, the one responsible
for building the mosque, normally tries to stay out of the spotlight. he was reluctant to do this interview. but he also has an important message. "we have got no intention of islamization," he says. "we just want to practice our own religion." he says "we have no mosque here in cologne. we need this building." if things go according to plan, in about two or three years there will be a new whereby different place of worship in the city of the great cathedral. the min ra rets will be tall but not as tall as the original plan called for. less than half as tall as the spires on the cathedral. it will still be the first thing you notice when you cross the rhine. i'm martin seemungal reporting for "worldfocus" in cologne, germany.
as we continue our look at immigration this evening, we turn to spain. for years as that country's economy soared immigrants poured into spain from africa, eastern europe, even south america. it was land of opportunity. but as we've seen over the last year or two, no longer. many jobs have vanished and spain's unemployment rate is among the highest in europe. but the immigrants have stayed. and many of them, especially those selling goods on the street, are under growing attack, as martin seemungal found when he traveled there. >> reporter: it's been a long winter in barcelona, cold and miserable. one of the worst in recent memory. the dismal state of the economy has done nothing to lighten the mood. financially, things are bad. the worst in recent memory. >> it's difficult for people from here. >> reporter: and the street vendors are on the run. immigrants from africa seem to have cornered the market on this over the years, selling knockoff
merchandise like the prada and gucci copies you see here. but things are tough. business is down. the big stores don't like the competition and have complained to the authorities. so these are anxious times for them, which means their job comes with plenty of strings attached, literally. the goods are spread out on what looks to be a blanket. notice the ropes on the corners. he's holding them because when he has to make a run for it, all he does is pull. the blanket becomes a sack and he's off, usually with a pair of police schoolers in pursuit. these days they've been doing more walking and running than selling. you doing good work? >> no. >> reporter: no? okay. a lot of times it's just a game of cat and mouse. but when the police get serious, the consequences can be very severe. they can face prison terms of up to two years.
they can be fined 3,000 euro, almost $4,000. and of course they get all their goods confiscated. this group has just been chased away. they ran a few blocks and set up somewhere else. the risk is high, but they do it because they really don't have much choice. hannah is a reporter for a barcelona magazine. she's been writing about the street vendors. >> i think it's a mix of desperation and ultimate sense that they just want to make it here in europe. somehow. >> reporter: it is not the best of times to be an immigrant trying to make it in europe. it's not even a good time for the spanish. they are struggling to make it. this is called cash converters. a pawnshop, really. you can bring in just about anything and they'll give you cash. it's been pretty busy lately. this man has been slowly selling off the things he doesn't use anymore. he can't find work. >> this past summer, i tried
everywhere. i put my curriculum in every place an didn't get any calls. and all my friends are the same. >> reporter: this woman gets food every week from her local church. she is a widow, a pensioner and her two sons are unemployed. the day we met her, there were also immigrants getting food at the church. a lady from cameroon and another fromecuador. the rest were spanish from barcelona. >> translator: i've never seen spain like this before. >> reporter: this man had never even heard of spain until about three years ago. now he knows barcelona better than his home village back in equatorial guinea. he walks everywhere delivering his resume. >> i come here to find school to find work. they tell me thank you very much. i want them to call me.
i need work. i stay here two year and a half. i don't have work. >> reporter: he and other immigrants use the facilities at this help center to look for work. but there are very few prospects. >> there is seven or eight jobs in more important newspaper of barcelona offering jobs. >> reporter: one of those jobs is to work in the kitchen over at j.j.'s restaurant. juan dominguez got this pile of cvs mostly from immigrants in just 48 hours. ple have no work here and there are many companies closing and there are more people without work. >> reporter: imagine, then, what this man, from the gambia is thinking right now. >> i came to libya around italy. then i came to spain. >> reporter: for him, spain was the land of opportunity. >> it's ver difficult because many people here they have
residency here but they don't have no work. so that's why me, as stranger, i'm really frustrated. >> reporter: he could turn to hawking those cheap knockoffs on the street. of course, there are risks involved. but walking around, there seemed to be more street vendors than ever before. for "worldfocus," i'm martin seemungal in barcelona. finally tonight, we are going to look beyond europe to south africa, a country martin seemungal has reported from for 20 years. anti-immigrant sentiment has been increasing there as well in recent years with waves of attacks on immigrants in 2008. the immigrants found themselves caught between violence in a country that wanted them to leave and the danger of returning home to countries that didn't want them back.
>> reporter: it looks and sounds like the old days in south africa, the kind of anger once directed at the oppressive white government. >> we should invad them. if they don't want to go, we should kill them. doing so. >> reporter: this was just last year. and the anger was directed at black people, fellow africans from zimbabwe, nigeria, somalia and elsewhere who had come to south africa hoping to find a better life. it was called zen phoxen phobic violence. foreigners had businesses destroyed. houses were torched. they were killed with guns and machetes. some were even set on fire. burned alive. the death of one man, a mozambiquan, shook the nation and shocked the world.
within two weeks, the violence had spread across the country. it took a massive deployment of security forces to bring things under control. by the time it was over, 100 people were dead. an estimated 200,000 people were displaced. some took cover in police stations. others found refuge in isolated camps, the kind of refugee camps you'd normally find in war-torn somalia, sudan or the congo. it started, we are told, in alexandra, a sprawling black township on the edge of johannesburg. >> the men came from this side. he was running, bleeding from that side in there. went over here and then he lost balance over here and then he died over here. >> reporter: you saw this? >> yeah, i saw this. >> reporter: there has always been an undercurrent of anti-foreigner sentiment in this country. but the level of the attacks and the intensity of the violence is unprecedented. and there's a common theme here.
they all occurred in south africa's poorest townships. alex, as it is called, is one of the poorest. they have lived here her whole life. >> they say foreigners take jobs. >> reporter: what do you think? is that true? >> yes. >> translator: they take jobs? >> yes. >> reporter: which countries? >> zimbabwe, nigeria especially zimbabwe. >> reporter: you will hear the same story everywhere you you go. they are taking our jocks. and in south africa, it is a very big deal. this is a country of about 50 million people. official estimates put the unemployment rate at about 30%. but everyone knows it's really closer to 45%. add just over 5 million foreigners, many here illegally to the equation, all trying to make a living, too, and you've got a recipe for resentment and conflict. >> we are people who live in
very poor neighborhoods who are competing for resources and in situations like that, it's easy to scapegoat the foreigner, the stranger, the other. and that's precisely what happened. >> reporter: immigrants are prepared to work for less money. in many cases, they will get the job over a south african. shepard, a teacher from zimbabwe, has seen it happen before. >> to some extent it is true because mostly foreigners, they are hard working. and, also, on the side of education, like most zimbabweans they're educated. so when it comes to preference zimbabweans take the post. >> reporter: he lives in an overcrowded room in the methodist church in the middle of downtown johannesburg. yet, he is a refugee. there are over 2,000 people here. they sleep on the floor or the
stairwells rather than risk returning to the townships. >> i'm frustrated. i don't even want to go anywhere except this place. >> reporter: it's been nearly a year since the killings but they're still afraid literally to move. outside capetown, several hundred more on a desolate section of beach. >> this side are the somalian side. this is the congolese and some other mixed nations. >> reporter: this man from somalia says they've been living like this since august. the government helps with the shelter and sanitation. but when it comes to food, he says, they are on their own. the official line from the authorities is that these people should reintegrate. they should go back to the communities. the people here say they can't do that. they say if they go back, they'll be killed. assad shows me a list. on it, he says the names of all the people who have died trying to reintegrate into south
african society. they stay in spite of the danger because for many it's even more dangerous back in their home country. so they live here in the hope things will get better in south africa. on the streets, it is difficult to find anyone who believes that killing foreigners is the answer. virtually everyone we speak to says it is wrong. >> i'm ashamed. i'm really ashamed because it brings a bad image for our country. >> 90% of the people don't support it. >> reporter: it has been quiet across the country for months, but the threat of more xenophobic violence is as real today as it was a year ago. for "worldfocus," i'm martin seemungal in alexandra township, south africa. and that is "worldfocus" for a wednesday evening. a reminder you can find a lot more news and perspective at our website worldfocus.org.
i'm martin savage in new york. thank you for joining us. we'll look for you tomorrow and any time on the web. we'll look for you tomorrow and any time on the web. until then, good night. that is "worldfocus" for -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by -- rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters --