After Paris Attacks: How Does Germany Think about Refugees Now?

After Paris Attacks:

How Does Germany Think about Refugees Now?

After the Paris terror attacks on November 13th still thousands of refugees come to Germany every day. How do the German citizens, media and politicians think about that after the events in France?

Immigranten / Flüchtlinge beim Grenzübergang Wegscheid

Politicians React

Just days after the terror attacks in Paris, German politicians began to warn that the refugee crisis and the terroristic acts should not be mingled in the public debate. The Secretary of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen member of the CDU, said:

EnglishGerman

We shouldn’t make the big mistake to equate refugees with terrorists.

Wir dürfen jetzt nicht den Fehler machen, Flüchtlinge mit Terroristen gleichzusetzen

Another government member, Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD), explained why that is important:

EnglishGerman

There is no connection, not a single traceable connection between terrorism and refugees except maybe this one: That the refugees are fleeing from the same people in Syria who are responsible for the attacks in Paris.

Es gibt keine Verbindung, keine einzige nachweisbare Verbindung zwischen dem Terrorismus und den Flüchtlingen außer vielleicht einer: nämlich dass die Flüchtlinge vor den gleichen Leuten in Syrien flüchten, die verantwortlich sind für die Anschläge in Paris

The coalition in charge of the federal government demonstrates unity: Germany will keep accepting refugees for now. Chancellor Angela Merkel also sticks to not naming a number of how many refugees Germany will accommodate, a position that has caused a controversy between her and Bavarian politicians, who belong to the CSU—sister party of Merkel’s party CDU. The CSU has been campaigning for fewer refugees in Germany for quite a while, so it was no surprise that CSU-member Markus Söder tweeted just hours after the attacks in Paris:

The #ParisAttacks change everything. We cannot allow illegal and unrestricted immigration.

The Online Debate

Although some opposition parties and local politicians are more and more against the federal government’s refugee policy, Merkel stoically sticks to her opinion. Just as there is discussion among politicians, the media and netizens don’t agree either. The case of journalist Matthias Matussek shows this disagreement.

He was a writer for the conservative newspaper Die Welt. Just hours after the attacks in Paris and even before it was known who was behind the violence he posted on Facebook:

I am guessing that the terror in Paris will give our discussion about open borders and a quarter of a million unregistered young Islamic men in our country a new direction…:-)

A comment that led Matussek’s dismissal from the newspaper. It was not just the comment, but the emoji that caused commotion online. In response, Kai Diekmann, editor in chief of the well-known tabloid Bild, commented:

I think your smiley-comment is just DISGUSTING!

And Philipp Jessen, editor with the magazine Stern, responds on Twitter:

deranged guy.

However, among netizens the comment was not perceived as badly. Many did not agree with Matussek’s layoff and called it censorship. In regards to Matussek’s smiley-post, netizen lemmy, who commented on the news site Spiegel Online, wrote:

EnglishGerman

I can’t find anything disgusting about it (Matussek’s Facebook post). Just the smiley he could have spared. That was not suitable. (But) Have thinking and re-thinking become a personal stain which are frowned upon by society? Everything that is not pro-Merkel-delusion is being bullied, fired or labeled a lowlife. What he wrote is correct. Now the only thing left to do is to continue to muzzle the mainstream media so that the electorate will get their supply of “tranquilizers”. Criticism unwanted. We will see how and when we will have to feel the consequences for that.

Ich kann daran nichts ekelhaftes finden. Nur den Smiley, den hätte er sich sparen können, das war unangebracht. Ist denken und umdenken neuerdings ein persönlicher Makel und gesellschaftlich verpönt ? Alles was nicht “pro Merkel-Wahn” ist, wird gemobbt, gekündigt oder als Pack bezeichnet. Er hat doch recht mit dem was er schreibt. Ansonsten bleibt dem Mainstream-Journalismus wohl nichts anderes übrig, als weiter Maulkörbe zu verteilen, damit das Wahlvolk auch weiterhin mit reichlich “Beruhigungspillen” versorgt wird. Kritik unerwünscht. Man wird noch sehen, wie und wann es dafür die Quittung gibt.

Despite a large number of critical comments on social media and elsewhere about refugees after the terror attacks in Paris, the polling website yougov.com shows that a majority of Germans are still in favor of accommodating refugees.

Do you agree with the following statement or not: Because of the attacks on Paris, the federal government should stop the immigration of refugees immediately.
39 percent agreed
53 percent did not agree
8 percent did not know.

A majority is still in favor of accomodating refugees. Screenshot yougov.com
A majority is still in favor of accomodating refugees. Screenshot yougov.com

This poll shows once more that refugees is Germany remains a controversial topic. Media and high-ranking politicians want to prevent a racist and violent row and call for temperance. Therefore in a commentary, journalist Markus Feldkirchen concluded:

EnglishGerman

The German right-wings have gone completely bonkers these days. Since I would not want to assume cynicism, only fear is left as a motive. Fears, though, are best taken to a therapist. In politics everything runs more smoothly based on facts and a cool head. Especially in extreme situations, actions based on fear lead to an even bigger crisis and more threats. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, both answers to 9/11, made the world a less safe place. That ISIS was able to gain strength is, among other reasons, owing to the breakdown of governmental institutions in Iraq.

Auf (sic) der politischen Rechten des Landes scheinen im Angesicht dieser Tage sämtliche Sicherungen durchzuschmoren. Da man niemandem Zynismus unterstellen sollte, bleibt als Motiv nur Angst übrig. Ängste aber sind am besten beim Therapeuten aufgehoben. In der Politik funktioniert es besser mit Fakten und einem kühlen Kopf. Gerade in Ausnahmesituationen führen Angsthandlungen meist zu noch größeren Krisen und Bedrohungen. Die Kriege in Afghanistan und im Irak etwa, beide Antworten auf die Anschläge des 11. September, haben die Welt unsicherer gemacht. Das Erstarken des “Islamischen Staats” (…) ist auch dem Zerfall staatlicher Strukturen im Irak geschuldet.

Hans Sarpei, a well-known ex-soccer player, calls upon a similar sentiment in a commentary for a weekly magazine:

EnglishGerman

If we don’t just want to preach philanthropy, but also live it, we should take Norway as an example. After the inconceivable act of terror by the racist and islamophobic Anders Breivik, Norway did not react with harder sanctions, but as their answer to terror they announced: “More democracy, more openness, more philanthropy.” We should take the peaceful Norwegians as an example. Not the USA.

Wenn wir Menschlichkeit nicht nur predigen, sondern auch leben wollen, sollten wir uns die Norweger zum Vorbild nehmen, die nach dem unfassbaren Terrorakt des rechtsextremen und islamfeindlichen Anders Breivik nicht härtere Sanktionen ausgerufen haben, sondern als ihre Antwort auf den Terror ausgaben: “Mehr Demokratie, mehr Offenheit, mehr Menschlichkeit.” Wir sollten uns die friedlichen Norweger als Vorbild nehmen. Nicht die USA.

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