On my Facebook feed, I have been following some of the major German political parties as part of some research for a book I started writing earlier this week: Die AfD: Seine Geschichte und Politik (The AfD: Its History and Politics). Over the past few days, I’ve seen a frequent spike in posts about Islam not only from the AfD, but from the CDU/CSU, which is currently Germany’s ruling political party.
Back in 2006, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble noted that, “Der Islam ist Teil Deutschlands und Europas,” or translated, “Islam is a part of Germany and Europe.” Similar statements were made by former German President Christian Wulff in 2010 and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015, both remarking that “Islam belongs to Germany.” Merkel’s words in particular came shortly before the migrant crisis began to exponentially grow in mid-2015, where more than a million migrants were accepted into Germany, most of them from Muslim majority nations.
Nearly three years later, the CDU/CSU had a split where the current German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, exclaimed that, “Der Islam gehört nicht zu Deutschland,”that, “Islam does not belong to Germany,” and followed up with a clarifying statement in a Facebook post: “Germany is shaped by Christianity. These include the free Sunday [referring to Sunday as the Sabbath day], Church holidays and rituals like Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. Of course, the Muslims living with us belong to Germany. Of course, that does not mean that we give up our country-typical traditions and customs out of false considerations.”
Issuing a clarifying statement in order to prevent a party split on the issue, party General Secretary Markus Blume stated that the issue “was not a question about religious freedom, rather [a question] of cultural imprint.” But it appears that Blume’s clarifying statement came too little, too late, for in the next several days public polling has shown that 76 percent of Germans agree with Seehofer’s statement.
Dr. Jörg Meuthen, the Federal Spokesperson of the AfD latched onto the party civil war and argued that Merkel’s statement was absurd, because, “the classic understanding of Islam is always accompanied by the claim to regulate the entire community in the political sense.” The AfD has also encouraged voters in Bavaria, and elsewhere in Germany, to vote for the AfD party for the sake of consistency on the issues.
Merkel herself has put some distance between herself and Seehoffer in her own comments reflected in her 2018 address to the Bundestag. Yet all of this conversation has drowned out an important question: why did Horst Seehofer make his comments? Seehofer’s own state of Bavaria is a good place to start. Currently, Bavaria is a hot spot for the Muslim migrants that came over during the apex of the refugee crisis. I personally witnessed this myself when I visited Bavaria last January. Someone I am acquainted with was the victim of a horrible crime, and the criminal, an Afghan refugee, was only sentenced with light community work, while my friend, the one who was transgressed upon, was tacked with a 1,500 Euro fine for fighting in self-defense.
Before my visit, I began to research local crime statistics, and found in a federal police report that there was an overall rise in crime. Theft decreased by 2.7 percent between 2015 and 2016, but that paled into comparison with drug crime and homicides rising at 19.2 percent and 14.9 percent respectively. The total number of crimes made a sharp increase from 650,868 crimes in 2014 to 882,473 crimes in 2016, with a majority of the increase noted with these statistics being a result of violations in immigration law.
The report notes that, “The total number of crimes recorded, including violations of immigration law, is particularly determined by the high rate of immigration in late 2015 and early 2016.” This factors into what is happening across Germany, whereby violent crime rose by about 10 percent in 2015 and 2016, and more than 90 percent of this crime increase has been attributed to young male refugees. This trend is still persisting into 2018.
It seems statistically significant that the increase in foreign immigration greatly contributed to the growth in crime rates throughout Germany. Furthermore, the sheer number of immigrants inundating Germany is astounding, and it’s clear that the cultural landscape has shifted. Thus, Seehofer’s quote seems justified. Germany is not an Islamic country. However, from increased crime rates attributed to refugees and shifting cultural values, it is clear that there is a correlation between these occurrences and the refugee migration. Seehofer is correct: Islam does not belong to Germany, and the German country should not allow its cherished heritage and culture to be overridden.
On the backdrop of this, Merkel herself admitted back in 2016 that she didn’t have control of the refugee situation when it started in 2015. Her current plans on having Eastern European countries pick up the tab and a lack of clear motive as to why she flipped on her previous position makes for a hard sell in the European political sphere.
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