Julian Borger writes: While the German police were looking for clues at the scene of the Berlin Christmas market attack and German leaders called for unity and calm, Donald Trump put out a statement from the other side of the world framing it as a jihadist onslaught against Christians.
“[Islamic State] and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad,” his statement on Monday said. “These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the earth.”
However, a Pakistani asylum seeker detained at the scene was released on Tuesday for lack of evidence and the hunt was still on for the driver of the truck 24 hours after Trump’s statement.
In contrast to Trump’s declaration, a statement from German president Joachim Gauck did not attempt to reach conclusions, but stressed solidarity among religious and ethnic communities. “The hatred of the perpetrators will not seduce to hate,” he said. “It will not drive a wedge through our coexistence. We will reach out to each other, we will talk to each other and we will care for each other.”
Trump’s readiness to cast blame from afar and to emphasize sectarian division – and the absence of an equivalent statement from his office about an attack on Muslims the same day in Switzerland – has added urgency to concerns that his gut reactions to world events will act as an amplifier and accelerator of global conflict. [Continue reading…]