The sharp rise in crimes against refugees in Germany and what’s next

Even in 2015 we have been talking about a spike in attacks on refugees in Germany. And now in 2016 there were 3 533 attacks on refugees and refugee accommodations across Germany. How serious is the situation in your opinion, what can/should government do about and do you think that upcoming election might have an effect on even bigger mobilization of the far right scene in Germany? Read few comments.

Fabian Virchow, Head of the Research Unit on Right-Wing Extremism, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf

The situation is very serious for several reasons: It is not only the number of violent attacks that has exploded. The new quality of right-wing/racist violence a) comes also from the fact that a relevant share of the attacks is done by average citizens who had no connection to far right circles before; b) can be seen by a rising number of attacks against refugee children and against volunteers who support refugees in handling day-to-day affairs; finally c) these attacks are embedded in a broader discourse that the incoming refugees and the political decisions to let them in have created a situation of emergency in which such attacks are justified as ‘legitimate and natural reactions’ of the native population.

The government should act consequently against those inciting hate (in several cases spreading fake news) and organizing acts of violence.

The far right will try to make the upcoming election campaigns there show by spreading insulting and provocative statements, and tactical redrawing from it after public outroar. By this strategy they hope to gain extended media coverage.

Werner J. Patzelt, Gründungsprofessor des Dresdner Instituts für Politikwissenschaft, Technische Universität Dresden

On the one hand, attackers have to be pursued, brought to justice, and punished. This will deter others from such attacks. On the other hand the government must generate, and maintain, the feeling among the citizenry that it no longer pursues a policy of “wait and see” (like in 2015/2016), but that it can regain control over who immigrates to Germany, has a right to stay, or leaves the country in due time. As a result, the real challenge is to integrate those who are entitled to stay in Germany and to bring those back to their home countries who have no right to stay in Germany. In addition, the government must show its ability to guarantee public security and the German society’s liberal lifestyle.

Since the AfD wants to enter parliament, it simply has to mobilize her possible voters. Its ability to do so depends on three if/then-correlation. AfD will be able to mobilize many voters (a) if undesired immigration goes on, (b) if attacks by (Muslim) immigrants occur, (c) if the CDU makes no attempt to win right wing voters back to Angela Merkel’s party. At present, we cannot know what – and how much – out of these three classes of events is going to happen.

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