Blaming terrorist attacks on refugees isn’t going to make Europe safer

Alexander Görlach writes: It didn’t take long for Germany’s far-right party Alternative for Germany to exploit the Berlin terrorist attack for political gain. “These are Merkel’s dead,” tweeted AfD leader Marcus Pretzell on Monday.

However, Germany has been on the radar of Islamist terrorists for quite some time. So have Christmas markets: in 2000, four Algerians plotted to blow up the Christmas market in Strasbourg in France. In 2007, three terrorists were arrested in Germany for planned simultaneous car bomb attacks ― “the world will burn,” one reportedly said.

Terror arrived in Germany long before the Berlin incident. But it was the first in recent times that caused such significant casualties. This is very tragic, but to exclusively blame it on Syrian refugees defeats the purpose of trying to understand how to combat terrorism and prevent future attacks from happening. The suspect, Anis Amri, who was killed in a shootout with police near Milan today, was a Tunisian who came to Europe in 2011, entering through the Italian island of Lampedusa. This was back before the Syrian civil war had become the regional conflagration that it is today; it was also during the aftermath of the Arab Spring, when order in some countries in northern Africa was on the verge of collapsing. How many asylum seekers came to Europe then with bad intentions? How many of them were already eager and keen to become terrorists? The honest answer is: we don’t know.

But the right wing’s take on the Berlin attack is shortsighted. As a matter of fact, when southern Europe groaned under the pressure of refugees, the rest of the continent was indifferent about it. Europe’s refugee policy is flawed. The continent needs to get its act together: the regions around it may most likely remain in upheaval and turmoil for quite some time. Not having done so yet has nurtured the rise of anti-establishment activism, right-wing parties and xenophobic violence across the continent. [Continue reading…]

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