Europe and the rising politics of fear

Anna Sauerbrey writes: in Germany as across Europe, Islamophobia is picking up speed. On Saturday, Heiko Maas, Germany’s minister of justice and a Social Democrat, wrote online, “We won’t recede. Freedom and democracy are stronger than terror.” The answer from anti-immigrant commenters was quick, brutal and expletive-laced. “Your boundless idiocy and freedom are making this possible,” was a typical reply.

Germany has, until now, been a political and geographic linchpin in maintaining European adherence to the Schengen agreement, which guarantees open borders across much of the Continent. It will now come under extreme pressure: France, the Netherlands and Spain had tightened border controls by Saturday afternoon, around the same time that Poland announced that it would reduce the number of refugees it had agreed to take.

Whatever we may learn about the actual lives and origins of the perpetrators, whether one or several of them really came to Europe just recently, hidden among hundreds of thousands of refugees, it doesn’t really matter. In the current climate in Germany, facts are fiction and vice versa. Pegida, Alternative für Deutschland and the rest of the right wing have long made it their mantra that the government and mainstream media are lying to the German population — and many agree.

Germany has grown increasingly anxious and angry for some months. Reason might now decide to leave the room, replaced by the politics of fear. And where Germany goes, the rest of Europe will follow. [Continue reading…]

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