Merkel’s Germany Has Woken up to a New, Gloomy Dawn

Merkel’s refusal to address Islamist terrorism in Germany explains why the first Fascist, Far-Right party since WW2 has managed to enter the German parliament

The reckless handling of the terror threat posed by Islamists has not only led German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her party to an embarrassing low but also triggered the rise of the far-right in the general elections on Sunday.

It was only after the record dip in her popularity and the unprecedented success of nationalist party Alternativ Für Deautschland (AfD) that Chancellor Merkel thought about addressing the concerns of those who voted for AfD, which has secured 12.6 percent of the ballot.

AfD and PEGIDA

The newly emerged AfD is known to have close ties with the controversial PEGIDA movement whose founder and chief was caught posing as Adolf Hitler on social media, although they deny any official connection between two entities. The display of mutual understanding by AfD and PEGIDA was witnessed a few days before German Elections in Dresden, where despite being officially separate groups, supporters of Alternative for Germany and PEGIDA walked side by side brandishing the German flag and the red and gold flag.

The party started celebrating its success with a controversial statement by their top candidate Alexander Gauland, who stated, “Ms Merkel we will hunt you down and we will take our country and people back.” Gauland had also commented during a campaign event, “Germans should be proud of what their soldiers achieved during the first and second World Wars”.

Early this year, AfD politician Björn Höcke refused to respect an old German tradition of atoning Nazi crimes by calling Holocaust memorial in Berlin as a “monument of shame”.

Members of the nationalist German AfD, ‘Alternative for Germany’, celebrate during the election party in Berlin, Germany, September 24, 2017, after the polling stations for the German parliament elections had been closed. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

 

It’s a pity that the German government’s spineless politics during the past few years have brought the country to the brink of pre-World War II scenario, giving birth to parties like AfD and PEGIDA in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

The newly emerged anti-immigration and anti-Semitic AfD were initially established in opposition to Germany’s support for indebted European Union Member states like Greece and soon started giving oxygen to inflammatory issues pertaining to security.

Reacting to AfD’s success, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the neighboring Czech Republik warned, “Today they (AfD) attack the refugees and the EU, tomorrow they will target the Czechs and Poles.” Sobotka also stated that those who are reveling in AfD’s success are being shortsighted.

For Merkel and her party, the bullet passed closed to the ear and she is poised to form a fragile coalition government with Green and Free Democratic Party (FDP). The poor mandate came upon her like a public punishment for her inability to address the concerns of people who were critical towards the German government for exposing their country to the risk of terrorism by inviting uncontrolled immigrants, many from the extremism-marred Middle East.

Islamist Attacks

The worrying rise of PEGIDA and AfD came after a large number of those who had initially welcomed the refugees from war-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan turned their backs on the immigration policy in response to each fresh terror attack that took place in different regions of the country.

The worst terror attack in Germany’s recent history was committed in November 2016, when Anis Amri plowed a hijacked truck into a Christmas Market, killing at least twelve people and injuring sixty. The second major attack – a stabbing spree against innocent passengers in a train near Würzburg – was committed by another refugee from Afghanistan.

Another terror strike was carried out in Ansbach where a Syrian refugee blew himself up in the parking lot of a concert venue after he could not enter the arena due to commendable work by the security concert’s team.

Terrorist attacks in Germany

 

Al-Bakri, also a Syrian refugee, was planning a major terror strike in Germany but was handed over to police by several friends who had foreseen his plan. However, Al-Bakri managed to commit suicide in a high-security cell while in German police custody.

Chancellor Merkel’s naivety has left an irreparable dent in Germany’s liberal values and could result in further damage if she continues to ignore the basic concerns of a large number of citizens.

A majority of the angry voters merely demanded the government scrutinize the people seeking refuge in their country by putting in place rules that would discourage misuse of the country’s immigration laws, especially by terrorists.

Immigration

There have been a large quantity of media reports about refugees giving fake or dubious identities to German authorities in order to cheat the system or commit terrorism. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann told the German media:

“I cannot understand why the office, which can easily carefully analyse each and every passport, did not detect these fake passports”.

He further asserted:

“we cannot accept this given the current situation and security in our country”.

These are the issues that not only contributed to escalating the security threat but also caused distress among the German public. The German chancellor’s government also failed to address uncontrolled migration from relatively safe North African countries. This is especially inexcusable in the case of Anis Amri, who was an illegal immigrant and also had a criminal history in Germany before committing the terror attack.

After the election some critics suggested that East Germans have traditionally been more nationalistic, noting that a majority of AfD voters belong to that region. But such comments ignore the elephant in the room. AfD’s success has got more to do with the CDU’s indifference to the genuine grievances of German citizens than with any extremist views that they might have otherwise harboured.

This is the first time in post WW2 history that a party accused of having Nazi-like ideology managed to enter the Bundestag (German parliament). The occasion should be considered a dire warning for parties like CDU that barely survived this election.

Nationalists like PEGIDA and AfD seem hell-bent on exploiting the anger and insecurities of Germans in order to re-build a post WWII situation akin to when Adolf Hitler rose to power promising to restore the ‘honour and prosperity’ of Germans, only to throw humanity into a deadly man-made disaster.

 

About Khadija Khan

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