Sunday 19 November 2017

Don't blame refugees for terror attacks, says Merkel

Angela Merkel: facing calls to reverse 'open-door' policy. Photo: Getty Images
Angela Merkel: facing calls to reverse 'open-door' policy. Photo: Getty Images

Gabriel Samuels, Berlin

An increase in Islamist terror attacks in Germany cannot be blamed on the influx of refugees from Syria and the Middle East, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking at an event in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Wednesday, the leader countered fears refugees were in any way responsible for a series of attacks on German citizens last month.

Ms Merkel did however admit it was "apparent" terror groups including Isil were attempting to recruit many of the million or so refugees who have taken asylum in Germany over the past year.

"But the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism including Isis is not one which has come to us through refugees," she said, "but rather one which we already had here before. Through digitalisation, through social media, through the so-called darkweb - which is now in the media again because of the Munich shooting - we must constantly and continuously adapt to tackle these threats. An Islam that works and lives on the basis of the constitution... belongs to Germany."

At the end of July, Ms Merkel flatly rejected calls to alter the country's refugee policy and stressed that those fleeing persecution had the right to be protected.

"The terrorists want to make us lose sight of what is important to us, break down our cohesion and sense of community, as well as inhibit our way of life, our openness and our willingness to take in people who are in need," she told a news conference in Berlin.

The influx of migrants since 2015 has boosted support for the right-wing anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, while Ms Merkel's own popularity has slumped.

AfD politicians and members have repeatedly suggested a link between the growth in Islamist terrorism and the arrival of refugees from Syria.

There were four attacks on citizens in southern Germany over the space of a week in July, two of which were reportedly perpetrated by asylum seekers who had pledged support for Isis. The Chancellor concluded her speech by reiterating the government's plans to confront terror threats in a more effective way by increasing police personnel and boosting "powers to intervene".

Irish Independent

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