Source Pravda.Ru

German officials exclude risk of French-style riots

German officials played down the risk of the country seeing violence similar to that in neighboring France, even as Berlin police examined whether the overnight burning of five cars in the capital was a copycat crime.

Still, officials with both the outgoing and incoming governments stressed the need to better integrate immigrants into German society. France has seen 11 nights of violence, initially concentrated in immigrant-heavy suburbs, with disaffected youths torching cars and buildings.

"I think we should stay away from drawing premature analogies and making prophecies as to whether similar developments would be possible here," Thomas Steg, a spokesman for outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, told reporters. "The situation is not comparable."

Wolfgang Schaeuble, a conservative selected as Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel's interior minister, echoed that in an interview with the Bild daily.

"The conditions in France are different from the ones we have," Schaeuble said. "We don't have these gigantic high-rise projects that they have on the edges of French cities."

Schaeuble cautioned, however, that "we have to improve integration, particularly of young people. That means above all that they must master the German language."

An immigration law that took effect in January aims to have new arrivals integrate into society, making government-funded German language and civics courses obligatory for newcomers.

Steg was tightlipped on the German government's opinion of how events in France were handled, saying "it is not for us to comment on these decisions by the French government."

In the early hours of Monday, five cars were set on fire in Berlin's working-class Moabit district. Police were investigating, the AP reports.

V.Y.

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