Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Monument to Multiculturalism in Toronto, Canada. Four identical sculptures are located in East London, South Africa; in Changchun, China; in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Sydney, Australia

The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, political philosophy, and colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for "ethnic pluralism", with the two terms often used interchangeably, and for cultural pluralism[1] in which various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into a dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. It can describe a mixed ethnic community area where multiple cultural traditions exist (such as New York City or London) or a single country within which they do (such as Switzerland, Belgium or Russia). Groups associated with an indigenous, aboriginal or autochthonous ethnic group and settler-descended ethnic groups are often the focus.

In reference to sociology, multiculturalism is the end-state of either a natural or artificial process (for example: legally-controlled immigration) and occurs on either a large national scale or on a smaller scale within a nation's communities. On a smaller scale this can occur artificially when a jurisdiction is established or expanded by amalgamating areas with two or more different cultures (e.g. French Canada and English Canada). On a large scale, it can occur as a result of either legal or illegal migration to and from different jurisdictions around the world.

In reference to political science, multiculturalism can be defined as a state's capacity to effectively and efficiently deal with cultural plurality within its sovereign borders. Multiculturalism as a political philosophy involves ideologies and policies which vary widely.[2] It has been described as a "salad bowl" and as a "cultural mosaic",[3] in contrast to a "melting pot".[4]



States that embody multicultural ideals have arguably existed since ancient times. The Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great followed a policy of incorporating and tolerating various cultures.[5]

A historical example of multiculturalism was the Habsburg monarchy, which had broken up in 1918 and under whose roof many different ethnic, linguistic and religious groups lived together. One of the foundations of this centuries-old state structure was the Habsburg principle of "live and let live". The effects of this multicultural political system can still be statistically measured today, since a particularly positive relationship of trust between citizens and authorities (the so-called Habsburg effect) can still be seen in the former dominion.[6] Today's topical issues such as social and cultural differentiation, multilingualism, competing identity offers or multiple cultural identities have already shaped the scientific theories of many thinkers of this multi-ethnic empire.[7] After the First World War, ethnic minorities were disadvantaged, forced to emigrate or even murdered in most regions in the area of the former Habsburg monarchy due to the prevailing nationalism at the time. In many areas, these ethnic mosaics no longer exist today. The ethnic mix of that time can only be experienced in a few areas, such as in the former Habsburg port city of Trieste.[8]

In the political philosophy of multiculturalism, ideas are focused on the ways in which societies are either believed to or should, respond to cultural and Christian differences. It is often associated with "identity politics", "the politics of difference", and "the politics of recognition". It is also a matter of economic interests and political power.[9] In more recent times political multiculturalist ideologies have been expanding in their use to include and define disadvantaged groups such as African Americans, LGBT, with arguments often focusing on ethnic and religious minorities, minority nations, indigenous peoples and even people with disabilities. It is within this context in which the term is most commonly understood and the broadness and scope of the definition, as well as its practical use, has been the subject of serious debate.

Most debates over multiculturalism center around whether or not multiculturalism is the appropriate way to deal with diversity and immigrant integration. The arguments regarding the perceived rights to a multicultural education include the proposition that it acts as a way to demand recognition of aspects of a group's culture subordination and its entire experience in contrast to a melting pot or non-multicultural societies.

The term multiculturalism is most often used in reference to Western nation-states, which had seemingly achieved a de facto single national identity during the 18th and/or 19th centuries.[10] Multiculturalism has been official policy in several Western nations since the 1970s, for reasons that varied from country to country,[11][12][13] including the fact that many of the great cities of the Western world are increasingly made of a mosaic of cultures.[14]

The Canadian government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.[15][16] The Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is often referred to as the origins of modern political awareness of multiculturalism.[17] Canada has provided provisions to the French speaking majority of Quebec, whereby they function as an autonomous community with special rights to govern the members of their community, as well as establish French as one of the official languages. In the Western English-speaking countries, multiculturalism as an official national policy started in Canada in 1971, followed by Australia in 1973 where it is maintained today.[18][19][20][21] It was quickly adopted as official policy by most member-states of the European Union. Recently, right-of-center governments in several European states – notably the Netherlands and Denmark – have reversed the national policy and returned to an official monoculturalism.[22][unreliable source?] A similar reversal is the subject of debate in the United Kingdom, among others, due to evidence of incipient segregation and anxieties over "home-grown" terrorism.[23] Several heads-of-state or heads-of-government have expressed doubts about the success of multicultural policies: The United Kingdom's ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's ex-prime minister John Howard, Spanish ex-prime minister José María Aznar and French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of their multicultural policies for integrating immigrants.[24][25]

Many nation-states in Africa, Asia, and the Americas are culturally diverse and are 'multicultural' in a descriptive sense. In some, ethnic communalism is a major political issue. The policies adopted by these states often have parallels with multiculturalist policies in the Western world, but the historical background is different, and the goal may be a mono-cultural or mono-ethnic nation-building – for instance in the Malaysian government's attempt to create a 'Malaysian race' by 2020.[26]


People of Indian origin have been able to achieve a high demographic profile in India Square, Jersey City, New Jersey, US, known as Little Bombay,[27] home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere[28] and one of at least 24 enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged within the New York City Metropolitan Area, with the largest metropolitan Indian population outside Asia, as large-scale immigration from India continues into New York,[29][30]
through the support of the surrounding community.

Multiculturalism is seen by its supporters as a fairer system that allows people to truly express who they are within a society, that is more tolerant and that adapts better to social issues.[31] They argue that culture is not one definable thing based on one race or religion, but rather the result of multiple factors that change as the world changes.

Historically, support for modern multiculturalism stems from the changes in Western societies after World War II, in what Susanne Wessendorf calls the "human rights revolution", in which the horrors of institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing became almost impossible to ignore in the wake of the Holocaust; with the collapse of the European colonial system, as colonized nations in Africa and Asia successfully fought for their independence and pointed out the discriminatory underpinnings of the colonial system; and, in the United States in particular, with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, which criticized ideals of assimilation that often led to prejudices against those who did not act according to Anglo-American standards and which led to the development of academic ethnic studies programs as a way to counteract the neglect of contributions by racial minorities in classrooms.[32][33] As this history shows, multiculturalism in Western countries was seen to combat racism, to protect minority communities of all types, and to undo policies that had prevented minorities from having full access to the opportunities for freedom and equality promised by the liberalism that has been the hallmark of Western societies since the Age of Enlightenment. The contact hypothesis in sociology is a well-documented phenomenon in which cooperative interactions with those from a different group than one's own reduce prejudice and inter-group hostility.

Will Kymlicka argues for "group differentiated rights", that help both religious and cultural minorities operate within the larger state as a whole, without impinging on the rights of the larger society. He bases this on his opinion that human rights fall short in protecting the rights of minorities, as the state has no stake in protecting the minorities.[34]

C. James Trotman argues that multiculturalism is valuable because it "uses several disciplines to highlight neglected aspects of our social history, particularly the histories of women and minorities [...and] promotes respect for the dignity of the lives and voices of the forgotten.[35] By closing gaps, by raising consciousness about the past, multiculturalism tries to restore a sense of wholeness in a postmodern era that fragments human life and thought."[35]

Tariq Modood argues that in the early years of the 21st century, multiculturalism "is most timely and necessary, and [...] we need more not less", since it is "the form of integration" that (1) best fits the ideal of egalitarianism, (2) has "the best chance of succeeding" in the "post-9/11, post 7/7" world, and (3) has remained "moderate [and] pragmatic".[36]

Bhikhu Parekh counters what he sees as the tendencies to equate multiculturalism with racial minorities "demanding special rights" and to see these as promoting a "thinly veiled racis[m]". Instead, he argues that multiculturalism is in fact "not about minorities" but "is about the proper terms of the relationship between different cultural communities", which means that the standards by which the communities resolve their differences, e.g., "the principles of justice" must not come from only one of the cultures but must come "through an open and equal dialogue between them."[37]

Balibar characterizes criticisms of multiculturalism as "differentialist racism", which he describes as a covert form of racism that does not purport ethnic superiority as much as it asserts stereotypes of perceived "incompatibility of life-styles and traditions".[38]

While there is research that suggests that ethnic diversity increases chances of war, lower public goods provision and decreases democratization, there is also research that shows that ethnic diversity in itself is not detrimental to peace,[39][40] public goods provision[41][42] or democracy.[43] Rather, it was found that promoting diversity actually helps in advancing disadvantaged students.[44] A 2018 study in the American Political Science Review cast doubts on findings that ethnoracial homogeneity led to greater public goods provision.[45] A 2015 study in the American Journal of Sociology challenged past research showing that racial diversity adversely affected trust.[46]


Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical, or even desirable.[47][48][49] It is argued that nation states, who would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations' distinct culture.[50]

Sarah Song views cultures as historically shaped entities by its members, and that they lack boundaries due to globalization, thereby making them stronger than what others may assume.[51] She goes on to argue against the notion of special rights as she feels cultures are mutually constructive, and are shaped by the dominant culture. Brian Barry advocates a difference-blind approach to culture in the political realm and he rejects group-based rights as antithetical to the universalist liberal project, which he views as based on the individual.[52]

Susan Moller Okin, a feminist professor of political philosophy, argued in 1999, in "Is multiculturalism bad for women?", that the principle that all cultures are equal means that the equal rights of women in particular are sometimes severely violated.[53]

Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade-long study on how multiculturalism affects social trust.[54] He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust. People in diverse communities "don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions," writes Putnam.[55] In the presence of such ethnic diversity, Putnam maintains that, "[W]e hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do not look like us".[54] Putnam has also stated, however, that "this allergy to diversity tends to diminish and to go away... I think in the long run we'll all be better."[56] Putnam denied allegations he was arguing against diversity in society and contended that his paper had been "twisted" to make a case against race-conscious admissions to universities. He asserted that his "extensive research and experience confirm the substantial benefits of diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, to our society."[57]

Ethnologist Frank Salter writes:

Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism. For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government's share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens. Case studies of the United States, Africa and South-East Asia find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure. Moscow beggars receive more gifts from fellow ethnics than from other ethnies [sic]. A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller portion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogeneous cities.[58]

Dick Lamm, former three-term Democratic governor of the US state of Colorado, argued that "diverse peoples worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other—that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent."[59]

The American classicist Victor Davis Hanson used the perceived differences in "rationality" between Moctezuma and Cortés to argue that Western culture was superior to every culture in the entire world, which thus led him to reject multiculturalism as a false doctrine that placed all cultures on an equal footing.[60]

In New Zealand (Aotearoa), which is officially bi-cultural, multiculturalism has been seen as a threat to the Māori as an attempt by the New Zealand Government to undermine Māori demands for self-determination and encourage assimilation.[61]

Far-right sympathisers have been shown to increasingly take part in a multitude of online discursive efforts directed against global brands' multicultural advertisements.[62]

The Americas


Though not called Multiculturalism as such, the preamble of Argentina's constitution explicitly promotes immigration, and recognizes the individual's multiple citizenship from other countries. Though 97% of Argentina's population self-identify as of European descent and mestizo[63] to this day a high level of multiculturalism remains a feature of Argentina's culture,[64][65] allowing foreign festivals and holidays (e.g. Saint Patrick's Day), supporting all kinds of art or cultural expression from ethnic groups, as well as their diffusion through an important multicultural presence in the media. In Argentina the are recognized regional languages Guaraní in Corrientes,[66] Quechua in Santiago del Estero,[67] Qom, Mocoví, and Wichí in Chaco.[68] According to the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs published on its website, there are 1,779 registered indigenous communities in Argentina, belonging to 39 indigenous peoples.[69] [70]


Bolivia is a diverse country made up of 36 different types of indigenous groups.[71] Over 62% of Bolivia's population falls into these different indigenous groups, making it the most indigenous country in Latin America.[72] Out of the indigenous groups the Aymara and the Quechua are the largest.[71] The latter 30% of the population is a part of the mestizo, which are a people mixed with European and indigenous ancestry.[72] Bolivia's political administrations have endorsed multicultural politics and in 2009 Bolivia's Constitution was inscribed with multicultural principles.[73] The Constitution of Bolivia recognizes 36 official languages besides Spanish, each language has its own culture and indigenous group.[74] Bolivian culture is celebrated across the country and has heavy influences from the Aymara, the Quechua, the Spanish, and other popular cultures from around Latin America.


House with elements of people from different countries, including Russians and Germans, in Carambeí, south of the country, a city of Dutch

The Americas have been known to be some of the most multicultural geographical locations, with a diversity of language, religion, and ethnicity. The South American country Brazil can also acclaim multiculturalism, and has undergone many changes in the past few decades. Brazil is a controversial country when it comes to defining a multicultural country.[75] There are two views: the Harvard Institute of Economic Research states that Brazil has an intersection of many cultures because of recent migration, while the Pew Research Center state that Brazil is culturally diverse but the majority of the country speaks Portuguese.[76]

Cities such as São Paulo are home to migrants from Japan, Italy, Lebanon and Portugal.[77] There is a multicultural presence within in this city, and this is prevalent throughout Brazil. Furthermore, Brazil is a country that has made great strides to embrace migrant cultures. There has been increased awareness of anti-blackness and active efforts to combat racism.[78]


Sikhs celebrating the Sikh new year in Toronto
, Canada

Canadian society is often depicted as being "very progressive, diverse, and multicultural".[79] Multiculturalism (a Just Society[80]) was adopted as the official policy of the Canadian government during the premiership of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1970s and 1980s.[81] Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act[82] and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[83] The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country.[84][85] Canadian multiculturalism is looked upon with admiration outside the country, resulting in the Canadian public dismissing most critics of the concept.[86][87] Multiculturalism in Canada is often looked at as one of Canada's significant accomplishments,[88] and a key distinguishing element of Canadian identity.[89][90]

In a 2002 interview with The Globe and Mail, Karīm al-Hussainī, the 49th Aga Khan of the Ismaili Muslims, described Canada as "the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe", citing it as "a model for the world".[91] He explained that the experience of Canadian governance—its commitment to pluralism and its support for the rich multicultural diversity of its people—is something that must be shared and would be of benefit to all societies in other parts of the world.[91] The Economist ran a cover story in 2016 praising Canada as the most successful multicultural society in the West.[92] The Economist argued that Canada's multiculturalism was a source of strength that united the diverse population and by attracting immigrants from around the world was also an engine of economic growth as well.[92] Many public and private groups in Canada work to support both multiculturalism and recent immigrants to Canada.[93] In an effort to support recent Filipino immigrants to Alberta, for example, one school board partnered with a local university and an immigration agency to support these new families in their school and community.[94]


Mexico has historically always been a multicultural country. After the betrayal of Hernán Cortés to the Aztecs, the Spanish conquered the Aztec Empire and colonized indigenous people. They influenced the indigenous religion, politics, culture and ethnicity.[citation needed] The Spanish opened schools in which they taught Christianity, and the Spanish language eventually surpassed indigenous languages, making it the most spoken language in Mexico. Mestizo was also born from the conquest, which meant being half-Indigenous and half-Spanish.[95]

Mexico City has recently been integrating rapidly, doing much better than many cities in a sample conducted by the Intercultural Cities Index (being the only non-European city, alongside Montreal, on the index).[96] Mexico is an ethnically diverse country with a population composed of approximately 123 million in 2017. There is a wide variety of ethnic groups, the major group being Mestizos followed by White Mexicans and Indigenous Mexicans.[97] There are many other ethnic groups such as Arab Mexicans, Afro-Mexicans and Asian Mexicans.

From the year 2000 to 2010, the number of people in Mexico that were born in another country doubled, reaching a total of 961,121 people, mostly coming from Guatemala and the United States.[98] Mexico is quickly becoming a melting pot, with many immigrants coming into the country. It is considered to be a cradle of civilization, which influences their multiculturalism and diversity, by having different civilizations influence them. A distinguishable trait of Mexico's culture is the mestizaje of its people, which caused the combination of Spanish influence, their indigenous roots while also adapting the culture traditions from their immigrants.


Peru is an exemplary country of multiculturalism, in 2016 the INEI reported a total population of 31 million people. They share their borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Bolivia, and have welcomed many immigrants into their country creating a diverse community.

Peru is the home to Amerindians but after the Spanish Conquest, the Spanish brought African, and Asian peoples as slaves to Peru creating a mix of ethnic groups. After slavery was no longer permitted in Peru, African-Peruvians and Asian-Peruvians have contributed to Peruvian culture in many ways. Today, Amerindians make up 45% of the population, Mestizos 37%, white 15% and 3% is composed by black, Chinese, and others.[99] In 1821, Peru's president José de San Martín gave foreigners the freedom to start industries in Peru's ground, 2 years after, foreigners that lived in Peru for more than 5 years were considered naturalized citizens, which then decreased to 3 years.

United States

In the United States, multiculturalism is not clearly established in policy at the federal level, but ethnic diversity is common in rural, suburban and urban areas.[100]

Continuous mass immigration was a feature of the United States economy and society since the first half of the 19th century.[101] The absorption of the stream of immigrants became, in itself, a prominent feature of America's national myth. The idea of the melting pot is a metaphor that implies that all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention.[102] The melting pot theory implied that each individual immigrant, and each group of immigrants, assimilated into American society at their own pace. This is different from multiculturalism as it is defined above, which does not include complete assimilation and integration.[103] The melting pot tradition co-exists with a belief in national unity, dating from the American founding fathers:

Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people – a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs... This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.[104]

As a philosophy, multiculturalism began as part of the pragmatism movement at the end of the 19th century in Europe and the United States, then as political and cultural pluralism at the turn of the 20th century.[105] It was partly in response to a new wave of European imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa and the massive immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans to the United States and Latin America. Philosophers, psychologists and historians and early sociologists such as Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Santayana, Horace Kallen, John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke developed concepts of cultural pluralism, from which emerged what we understand today as multiculturalism. In Pluralistic Universe (1909), William James espoused the idea of a "plural society." James saw pluralism as "crucial to the formation of philosophical and social humanism to help build a better, more egalitarian society.[106]

The educational approach to multiculturalism has since spread to the grade school system, as school systems try to rework their curricula to introduce students to diversity earlier – often on the grounds that it is important for minority students to see themselves represented in the classroom.[107][108] Studies estimated 46 million Americans ages 14 to 24 to be the most diverse generation in American society.[109] In 2009 and 2010, controversy erupted in Texas as the state's curriculum committee made several changes to the state's requirements, often at the expense of minorities. They chose to juxtapose Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address with that of Confederate president Jefferson Davis;[110] they debated removing Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and labor-leader Cesar Chavez[111] and rejected calls to include more Hispanic figures, in spite of the high Hispanic population in the state.[112]

Effect of diversity on civic engagement

In a 2007 study by


Venezuela is the home to a variety of ethnic groups, with an estimated population of 32 million.[115] Their population is composed of approximately 68% Mestizo, which means of mixed race.[116] Venezuelan culture is mainly composed by the mixture of their indigenous culture, Spanish, and African.[117] There was a heavy influence of Spaniard culture due to the Spanish Conquest, which influence their religion, language, traditions. African influence can be seen on their music.[117] While Spanish is Venezuela's main language, there is more than 40 indigenous languages spoken til this day.[118]


Ethno-linguistic map of Austria-Hungary
, 1910.
Ethno-linguistic map of the Second Polish Republic
, 1937.

The European Union is facing unprecedented demographic changes (an aging population, low birth rates, changing family structures and migration). According to the European Commission, it is important, both at EU and national level, to review and adapt existing policies. Following a public debate, a 2006 EU policy paper identified five key policy responses to manage demographic change, among them receiving and integrating migrants into Europe.[119]

Historically, Europe has always been a mixture of Latin, Slavic, Germanic, Uralic, Celtic, Hellenic, Illyrian, Thracian and other cultures influenced by the importation of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other belief systems; although the continent was supposedly unified by the super-position of Imperial Roman Christianity, it is accepted that geographic and cultural differences continued from antiquity into the modern age.[120]

In the nineteenth century, the ideology of nationalism transformed the way Europeans thought about the state.[120] Existing states were broken up and new ones created; the new nation-states were founded on the principle that each nation is entitled to its own sovereignty and to engender, protect, and preserve its own unique culture and history. Unity, under this ideology, is seen as an essential feature of the nation and the nation-state; unity of descent, unity of culture, unity of language, and often unity of religion. The nation-state constitutes a culturally homogeneous society, although some national movements recognised regional differences.[121]

Where cultural unity was insufficient, it was encouraged and enforced by the state.[122] The nineteenth century nation-states developed an array of policies – the most important was compulsory primary education in the national language.[122] The language itself was often standardised by a linguistic academy, and regional languages were ignored or suppressed. Some nation-states pursued violent policies of cultural assimilation and even ethnic cleansing.[122]

Some countries in the European Union have introduced policies for "social cohesion", "integration", and (sometimes) "assimilation". The policies include:

Other countries have instituted policies which encourage cultural separation.[125] The concept of "Cultural exception" proposed by France in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations in 1993 was an example of a measure aimed at protecting local cultures.[126]


Since its establishment in the seventh century, Bulgaria has hosted many religions, ethnic groups and nations. The capital city Sofia is the only European city that has peacefully functioning, within walking distance of 300 metres,[127][128] four Places of worship of the major religions: Eastern Orthodox (St Nedelya Church), Islam (Banya Bashi Mosque), Roman Catholicism (St. Joseph Cathedral), and Orthodox Judaism (Sofia Synagogue, the third-largest synagogue in Europe).

This unique arrangement has been called by historians a "multicultural cliche".[129] It has also become known as "The Square of Religious Tolerance"[130][131] and has initiated the construction of a 100-square-metre scale model of the site that is to become a symbol of the capital.[132][133][134]

Furthermore, unlike some other Nazi Germany allies or German-occupied countries excluding Denmark, Bulgaria managed to save its entire 48,000-strong Jewish population during World War II from deportation to Nazi concentration camps.[135][136] According to Dr Marinova-Christidi, the main reason for the efforts of Bulgarian people to save their Jewish population during WWII is that within the region, they "co-existed for centuries with other religions" – giving it a unique multicultural and multiethnic history.[137]

Consequently, within the Balkan region, Bulgaria has become an example for multiculturalism in terms of variety of religions, artistic creativity[138] and ethnicity.[139][140] Its largest ethnic minority groups, Turks and Roma, enjoy wide political representation. In 1984, following a campaign by the Communist regime for a forcible change of the Islamic names of the Turkish minority,[141][142][143][144] an underground organisation called «National Liberation Movement of the Turks in Bulgaria» was formed which headed the Turkish community's opposition movement. On 4 January 1990, the activists of the movement registered an organisation with the legal name Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) (in Bulgarian: Движение за права и свободи: in Turkish: Hak ve Özgürlükler Hareketi) in the Bulgarian city of Varna. At the moment of registration, it had 33 members, at present, according to the organisation's website, 68,000 members plus 24,000 in the organisation's youth wing [1]. In 2012, Bulgarian Turks were represented at every level of government: local, with MRF having mayors in 35 municipalities, at parliamentary level with MRF having 38 deputies (14% of the votes in Parliamentary elections for 2009–13)[145] and at executive level, where there is one Turkish minister, Vezhdi Rashidov. 21 Roma political organisations were founded between 1997-2003 in Bulgaria.[146]


After the end of World War II in 1945, immigration significantly increased. During the period of reconstruction, France lacked the labour to do so, and as a result; the French Government was eager to recruit immigrants coming from all over Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Although there was a presence of, Vietnamese in France since the late-nineteenth century (mostly students and workers), a wave of Vietnamese migrated after 1954. These migrants consisted of those who were loyal to the colonial government and those married to French colonists. Following the partition of Vietnam, students and professionals from South Vietnam continued to arrive in France. Although many initially returned to the country after a few years, as the Vietnam War situation worsened, a majority decided to remain in France and brought their families over as well.[147]

This period also saw a significant wave of immigrants from Algeria. As the Algerian War started in 1954, there were already 200,000 Algerian immigrants in France.[148] However, because of the tension between the Algerians and the French, these immigrants were no longer welcome. This conflict between the two sides led to the Paris Massacre of 17 October 1961, when the police used force against an Algerian demonstration on the streets of Paris. After the war, after Algeria gained its independence, the free circulation between France and Algeria was once again allowed, and the number of Algerian immigrants started to increase drastically. From 1962-75, the Algerian immigrant population increased from 350,000 to 700,000.[149] Many of these immigrants were known as the "harkis," and the others were known as the "pieds-noirs." The "harkis" were Algerians who supported the French during the Algerian War; once the war was over, they were deeply resented by other Algerians, and thus had to flee to France. The "pieds-noirs" were European settlers who moved to Algeria, but migrated back to France since 1962 when Algeria declared independence.

According to Erik Bleich, multiculturalism in France faced stiff resistance in the educational sector, especially regarding recent Muslim arrivals from Algeria. Gatekeepers often warned that multiculturalism was a threat to the historic basis of French culture.[150]

Jeremy Jennings finds three positions among elites regarding the question of reconciling traditional French Republican principles with multiculturalism. The traditionalists refuse to make any concessions and instead insist on clinging to the historic republican principles of "laïcité" and the secular state in which religion and ethnicity are always ignored. In the middle are modernising republicans who uphold republicanism but also accept some elements of cultural pluralism. Finally there are multiculturalist republicans who envision a pluralist conception of French identity and seek an appreciation of the positive values brought to France by the minority cultures.[151]

A major attack on multiculturalism came in Stasi Report of 2003 which denounces "Islamism" as deeply opposed to the mainstream interpretations of French culture. It is portrayed as a dangerous political agenda that will create a major obstacle for Muslims to comply with French secularism or "laïcité ".[152] Murat Akan, however, argues that the Stasi Report and the new regulations against the hijab and religious symbols in the schools must be set against gestures toward multiculturalism, such as the creation of Muslim schools under contract with the government.[153]


In October 2010, Angela Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam, near Berlin, that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed",[154] stating: "The concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it does not work".[154][155] She continued to say that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values. This has added to a growing debate within Germany[156] on the levels of immigration, its effect on Germany and the degree to which middle eastern immigrants have integrated into German society.[157] In 2015, Merkel again criticized multiculturalism on the grounds that it leads to parallel societies.[158]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Germany is the first Muslim group to have been granted "corporation under public law status", putting the community on par with the major Christian churches and Jewish communities of Germany.[159]


Luxembourg has one of the highest foreign-born populations in Europe, foreigners account for nearly half of the country's total population.[160] The majority of foreigners are from: Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Portugal.[161] In total, 170 different nationalities make up the population of Luxembourg, out of this; 86% are of European descent.[162] The official languages of Luxembourg are German, French, and Luxembourgish all of which are supported in the Luxembourg government and education system.[162][163] In 2005, Luxembourg officially promoted and implemented the objectives of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. This Convention affirms multicultural policies in Luxembourg and creates political awareness of cultural diversity.[164]


Süleymanìye Mosque in Tilburg
built in 2001

Multiculturalism in the Netherlands began with major increases in immigration to the Netherlands during the mid-1950s and 1960s.[165] As a consequence, an official national policy of multiculturalism was adopted in the early-1980s.[165] Different groups could themselves determine religious and cultural matters, while state authorities would handle matters of housing and work policy.[166]

In the 1990s, the public debate were generally optimistic on immigration and the prevailing view was that a multicultural policy would reduce the social economic disparities over time.[166]

This policy subsequently gave way to more assimilationist policies in the 1990s and post-electoral surveys uniformly showed from 1994 onwards that a majority preferred that immigrants assimilated rather than retained the culture of their country of origin.[165][167]

Following the September 11 attacks in the United States and the murders of Pim Fortuyn (in 2002) and Theo van Gogh (in 2004) there was increased political debate on the role of multiculturalism in the Netherlands.[166][168]

Lord Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, made a distinction between tolerance and multiculturalism, citing the Netherlands as a tolerant, rather than multicultural, society.[169] In June 2011, the First Rutte cabinet said the Netherlands would turn away from multiculturalism: "Dutch culture, norms and values must be dominant" Minister Donner said.[170]


Since Antiquity, Romania has hosted many religious and ethnic groups, including Roma people, Hungarians, Germans, Turks, Greeks, Tatars, Slovaks, Serbs, Jews and others. Unfortunately, during the WW2 and the Communism, most of these ethnic groups choose to emigrate to other countries. However, since 1990s, Romania has expected a growing number of immigrants and refugees, most of them from the Arab World, Asia or Africa. Immigration is expected to increase in the future, as large numbers of Romanian workers leave the country and are being replaced by foreigners.[171][172]


The population structure of the Vuosaari district in Helsinki, Finland, is strongly based on multiculturalism.[173][174][175]

Multiculturalism in Scandinavia has centered on discussions about marriage, dress, religious schools, Muslim funeral rites and gender equality. Forced marriages have been widely debated in Denmark, Sweden and Norway but the countries differ in policy and responses by authorities.[176]

Sweden has the most permissive policies while Denmark the most restrictive ones.


In 2001, Denmark a liberal-conservative coalition government with the support of the Danish People's Party which instituted less pluralistic policy, more geared towards assimilation.[176]

A 2018 study found that increases in local ethnic diversity in Denmark caused "rightward shifts in election outcomes by shifting electoral support away from traditional "big government" left‐wing parties and towards anti‐immigrant nationalist parties."[177]

For decades, Danish immigration policy was built upon the belief that, with support, immigrants and their descendants would eventually reach the same levels of education as Danes. In a 2019 report, the Danish Immigration Service and the Ministry of Education found this to be false. The report found that, while the second-generation immigrants without a Western background do better than their parents, the same is not true for third-generation immigrants. One of the reasons given was that second-generation immigrants may marry someone from their country of origin, which may cause Danish not to be spoken at home, which would put the children at a disadvantage in school. Thereby, the process of integrating has to start from the beginning for each generation.[178][179]


Apart from citizens of Nordic countries, all foreigners must apply for permanent residency in order to live and work in Norway.[181] In 2017, the Norwegian immigrant population was made up of: citizens of EU and EEA countries (41.2%); citizens of Asian countries, including Turkey (32.4%); citizens of African countries (13.7%); and citizens of non-EU/EEA European, North American, South American and Oceanian countries (12.7%).[182]

In 2015, during the European migrant crisis, a total of 31,145 asylum seekers, most of whom came from Afghanistan and Syria, crossed the Norwegian border.[183] In 2016, the number of asylum seekers dramatically reduced by almost 90%, with 3460 asylum seekers coming to Norway. This was partly due to the stricter border control across Europe, including an agreement between the EU and Turkey.[184][185]

As of September 2019, 15 foreign residents who had travelled from Norway to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State have had their residence permits revoked.[186]

The Progress Party has named the reduction of high levels of immigration from non-European countries one of their goals:

"Immigration from countries outside the EEA must be strictly enforced to ensure a successful integration. It can not be accepted that fundamental Western values and human rights are set aside by cultures and attitudes that certain groups of immigrants bring with them to Norway."[187]

An extreme form of opposition to immigration in Norway were the 22/7 attacks carried out by the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik on 22 July 2011. He killed 8 people by bombing government buildings in Oslo and massacred 69 young people at a youth summer camp held by the Labour Party, who were in power at the time. He blamed the party for the high level of Muslim immigration and accused it of "promoting multiculturalism."[188]