The governor of the German state of Bavaria acknowledged Tuesday radical Islamist terrorism has come to Germany, signalling the country may need to reexamine its policies after experiencing four separate terrorist attacks in less than one week.
“Every attack, every act of terrorism is one too many. Islamic terrorism has arrived in Germany and the people are rightly expecting us to stand up to this courageously,” Horst Seehofer said during a news conference.
Three of the four attacks occurred in Bavaria. A teenage Afghan refugee attacked passengers with an ax on a train in Wuerzburg July 18, wounding five people. Another teenager of Iranian background shot dead nine people in Munich July 22. A 27-year-old Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up outside a wine bar in Ansbach July 24. The one attack outside of Bavaria occurred earlier that day, when a 21-year-old Syrian refugee hacked a woman to death with a machete in Reutlingen, a city in Baden-Wurttemberg.
The attacks left 11 people dead, with dozens more injured, leading many Germans to question Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than one million migrants into the country last year. Merkel has insisted on maintaining an open refugee policy, even though the decision has cost her Christian Democratic Union party in elections. She has described the refugee crisis as a “historic test for Europe,” one that will be passed by offering asylum to refugees from war-torn areas. Her “we can do it line” has become synonymous with open door immigration policy. Bavaria is the most Catholic and conservative part of Germany, and is Merkel’s power base.
A massive amount of the refugees, including most of the terrorist perpetrators, are asylum seekers from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
German frustration regarding immigration and the subsequent attacks has created a far-right, nationalist sentiment. The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has responded to the attacks by virulently criticizing Merkel’s immigration policy.
“Do you now feel Germany is colorful enough, Mrs Merkel?” said the party’s co-leader Frauke Petry in a Facebook post Monday. AfD followers made many similar comments via social media.
Seehofer acknowledged Germans are currently “riled up” and “full of fear” after the attacks. In response, he said the government must “do whatever is necessary to protect our citizens.”
“What we have here is an entirely new dimension of terrorism, the Islamist-minded terrorism, and we have to have intense discussions on this challenge in Bavaria and in Germany as well as prevent and repress it,” said Seehofer.
German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maziere acknowledged concerns regarding terrorism.
“Here too it is the case, as we have indicated multiple times, that we do receive indications of links between the refugees who come to us and international terrorism,” said de Maziere. “In most cases these indications turn out to be false, but there are some that still need to be examined. Therefore we cannot say that there is no link between refugees and terrorism.”
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