Since the end of the war, Germany has had one of the most liberal asylum regimens in Europe. But what was meant as partial atonement for the sins of the Third Reich has now morphed into something increasingly ugly:
Two people were wounded when far-right protesters against the expansion of refugee accommodation in the east German city of Frankfurt an der Oder clashed with counter-demonstrators on Saturday, police said. The evening before, three people were wounded and one person arrested in Dresden, about 190 km (118 miles) away, when around 100 supporters of the right-wing party NPD had an altercation with opponents, police said.
Germany is having to accommodate a record-breaking number of asylum-seekers this year as ever greater numbers flee conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. The country expects to receive about 450,000 asylum applications in 2015, more than double from 2014 when around 200,000 people applied.
The government is worried about growing hostility towards immigrants, which has led to demonstrations and some violence towards refugees, including attacks on refugee accommodation. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 200 assaults on refugee shelters — already more than in the whole of 2014.
“Asylum” was meant to shelter innocent victims of political or religious persecution, not people fleeing their own countries’ econoic or social dysfunction, and was certainly never designed to accommodate cultural aliens arriving in these kinds of numbers.
“As a state, we are swamped with the sheer number of people,” Matthias Kahl, deputy interior minister in the east German state of Brandenburg, home to Frankfurt an der Oder, told Reuters in the city of Eisenhuettenstadt. “The authorities are overwhelmed with building shelters and housing the people and the communities are overwhelmed with accommodating the children in kindergartens and schools.”
Meanwhile, in Finland, a member of Parliament is in hot water for daring to call for an end to “multiculturalism”:
The leader of the populist Finns Party has so far remained silent after a prominent MP called on his followers to “fight until the end” against the “nightmare called multiculturalism.” Olli Immonen, member of parliament for the northern Finnish town of Oulu, posted his remarks in English on Friday night on Facebook and on the website of the nationalist organisation Suomen Sisu, of which he is the chair.
The MP, an outspoken opponent of immigration who on his website describes the need to fight the “Islamification” of Finland, predicted in his post “’The ugly bubble that our enemies live in will soon enough burst into a million little pieces.” He added that “We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation.”
This is not going to end well.
The remarks drew widespread condemnation from other politicians, who accused him of inciting hatred. However the 29-year-old’s own party leader, Timo Soini, who is also the country’s foreign minister, has so far been unavailable for comment.