Merkel: Migrants did not bring Radical Terrorism to Germany

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a campaign event on Wednesday evening, that there is no relationship between the influx of some one million migrants and refugees into Germany in the past year and the incidents of radical Muslim violence in the country.

She pointed out that Muslim radicalism as a phenomenon pre-existed the rise of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) and that even Daesh was there before the refugee crisis. She said that German authorities have been worried about Daesh for some years.

To some extent she blamed social media rather the the influx of refugees.

She said that the right way to deal with domestic terrorism is more state powers and better trained police.

Reuters reports that Merkel said that forms of Islam compatible with the constitution are welcome in Germany:

“”We have said clearly that an Islam that works and lives on the basis of the constitution … belongs to Germany . . .”

About half of Germans agree with her. And what is remarkable is that you have the head of state talking in this clear-eyed and generous way about people who have lost everything and sought a better life. It is hard to imagine a US politician of Merkel’s level openly speaking out this way. Of course her party may suffer for it at the polls– we have yet to see. But Merkel is not backing down.

Merkel has long insisted that Islam belongs to Germany. I pointed out 18 months ago that this assertion is historically true.

If Germans did not want Islam to belong to Germany, they shouldn’t have gone out and subjugated e.g. Tanzania in the 19th century (although a mixed society it has a strong Muslim community). There was also German colonialism in West Africa, where there were also Muslims. If you go out an incorporate people into your empire, they belong to you whether they or you like it or not.

I wrote:

“Some 57% of Germans say in polls that they feel threatened by Islam. A country of 80 million, Germany has 4 million Muslims, 2/3s of them Turks. About half of these Turks of Muslim heritage, however, hail from the Alevi Shiite minority in Turkey, and many Alevi families became secular leftists in the 1960s and 1970s. So most Turkish Muslims are not interested in Sunni fundamentalism. Moreover, only about half of resident Muslims are citizens, so they are not in a position to ‘Islamize’ anything, even if they wanted to– which most do not. In polling, Germans give unrealistically high estimates of how many Muslims they think there are in the country.

Germans have very small family size and the country is projected to fall from 80 million to only 60 million by 2050, thus falling behind France, which is growing through immigration. Merkel’s government appears to favor emulating the French policy, encouraging immigration, to avoid Germany losing its economic and demographic leadership role in Europe”.

Besides, there was radical terrorism of leftist and rightist varieties in Germany in the twentieth century and it was far more deadly than the Daesh attacks of today (as horrific and inexcusable as those are). To start the clock on social violence with last year’s arrival of so many immigrants and refugees and then to blame everything on them is ahistorical thinking.


Related video:

Angela Merkel stands by refugee policy after attacks in Germany

7 Responses

  1. There are quite a few theories for explaining Merkel’s behavior.

    One suggests, that Merkel mostly tried to polish up her image by allowing the large number of refugees in.

    Merkel was pictured with a swastika and a hitler moustache in just about every european news paper, because of the austerity measures she is imposing on europe. So she tried to show that she is actually nice by opening the borders. She reportedly said she wanted to ‘shame’ the countries who wanted no refugees at all.

    And she calculated the green opposition party would be jubilant, thus opening another option for power and a way out of the hated ‘grand coalition’ with the social democrats.

    On top of that, her advisors had been telling her that germany needs more migrants to battle the aging of the population. But attempts to start projects in that direction never got of the ground, mostly due to the resistance of her own party.

    Thus Merkel might have considered the refugee crisis a golden opportunity and took a wild gamble by single handedly opening the borders. Without approval by the parlament…

    She might have seriously underestimated the challenge to deal with an HUGE number of refugees being thrown at local offices that have been starved from funds for years, thanks to the idiotic austerity policies.

    She might have overestimated the willingness of the public to accept the situation.

    Her hopes that other countries would pitch in once she had simply created the facts were in vain.

    This might cost her her office, actually already would have, if it wasn’t for the media who defend her on every corner.

    A lot of the problems that occur now are indeed ‘homemade’. Distrust of politicians, whose ‘reforms’ have only hurt the majority of the population (especially those who were not well off to begin with) is wide spread.

    For a lot of people the refugee thing is the last straw. And for right wingers an easy way to garner support.

    We are living in interesting times.

  2. Merkel and her faction among the conservative party have made an interesting gambit by having admitted refugees for a time. Few countries have done so although it is worth remembering that political refugees technicaly do have a right for asylum under international treaties.

    The German conservatives likely had other reasons apart from humanitarian considerations: an increased influx of Syrian immigrants – many of them with solid qualifications – will 1) reduce the demographic burden in Germany and 2) further entrench the (bipartisan) domestic wage dumping policy that tilted the Eurozone in favor of German exports while bankrupting the periphery.

    It also pulled the carpet from under the feet of the left parties (foremost the social democrats, but even the green and the radical left party) while strengthening the right (factions within her own party, the xenophobic AfD party, and extra-parliamentary groups).

    She may have done the right thing – but for the wrong reasons – and with dangerous consequences.

  3. Germans feel threatened by the number of Muslim immigrants, who aren’t actually very numerous *and* will help to correct a major demographic shortfall. Is that right?

  4. At least Merkel is setting some kind of example for the rest of the world, regardless of any political calculus behind her actions. We in the US should be ashamed of our ignorance and fear of Muslims.

    • Is the average American any more ignorant of Muslims than the average German? The average Frenchman? The average Brit? I doubt it, unless you can produce evidence demonstrating that American ignorance exceeds that of European countries.

  5. Foreign Policy: ARGUMENT: (03/10/2016):
    Angela Merkel’s Misunderstood Christian Mission

    Angela Merkel’s Misunderstood Christian Mission
    The German leader isn’t just fighting for the future of the EU – she’s trying to shape the future of the continent’s biggest religion.
    link to

    I don’t think this is the article I remember reading from about the same time (maybe it is) … but apparently Merkel’s party is the Christian Democratic Party and she has quite openly called on Germans of her party (and in general) to live their Christian values/faith in offering “charity” and compassion.

    I’m a lifelong atheist (parents atheist) and I do believe in separation of church/state, however, it is refreshing and moving to me to see any leader calling on citizens to “live their values” and “live their faith”

    So much contentious (and unending ) consideration of “political calculations” and strategy, it’s very good to see principles mentioned as if they mattered.

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