German government calls for calm after asylum seeker accused of rape and murder ignites anti-migrant backlash

Neo-Nazis said to be 'rubbing their hands with glee' after 17-year-old Afghan migrant accused of killing woman

May Bulman
Monday 05 December 2016 18:29
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Right-wing, anti-migrant protests have become more common in Germany, and AfD's popularity has grown with the rising discontent over the presence of refugees in the country
Right-wing, anti-migrant protests have become more common in Germany, and AfD's popularity has grown with the rising discontent over the presence of refugees in the country

The German government has called for calm after the arrest of an asylum seeker over the rape and murder of a woman prompted a backlash against the country’s “open door” asylum policy.

Following news that an Afghan 17-year-old had been accused of the murder of the 19-year-old woman, anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) publicly warned against the "uncontrolled arrival" of immigrants.

Meanwhile, the head of a police union claimed the murder could have been prevented had the country been "better prepared" for immigration.

In response to the anti-migrant backlash, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the alleged incident should not be used to whip up hatred against all refugees.

Mr Gabriel told Bild newspaper: “Such horrible murders already happened before the first Afghan or Syrian refugee arrived here. We will not allow incitement after such violent crimes, no matter who commits them.”

Interior Minister for German state Baden-Württemberg, Thomas Strobl, meanwhile, said the suspect must answer before the law “regardless of his nationality”.

“The alleged offender must now - regardless of his nationality, regardless of the question since when he has lived in Germany - be in court and answer before the law,” said Mr Strobl.

In response to the arrest of the asylum seeker, AfD co-chief Jörg Meuthen, whose party has grown with the rising discontent over the presence of refugees in Germany, said: “We are shocked by this crime and at the same time we see that our warnings about the uncontrolled arrival of hundreds of thousands of young men from Islamic-patriarchal cultures are written off as populist.”

Rainer Wendt, head of the DPoIG police union, claimed the teenager's killing could have been prevented, telling Bild: “We wouldn't have this victim, and so many others, if our country had been better prepared for the dangers that always go along with massive immigration.”

The BZ daily in Berlin said neo-Nazis in Germany were “rubbing their hands with glee” in response to news of the incident, viewing it as an opportunity to spread their propaganda.

The publication wrote: “This terrible case is a perfect incentive for their propaganda: every refugee is a potential criminal and terrorist!”

On social media issued sarcastic 'thank yous' to Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose open-door asylum policy brought a record number of migrants and refugees into Germany last year.

Maria Ladenburger, the daughter of a high-ranking EU legal official, was raped and murdered in Frieburg as she cycled home, and was later found drowned on a river bank.

The DNA of the Afghan migrant was found at the scene and he was identified on CCTV, according to the authorities in Frieburg.

The suspect, who came to Germany in 2015, is on remand and will stand trial next year after charges are brought at the conclusion of the police investigation.

Recent figures show anti-migrant sentiment has been growing in Germany over recent years.

Attacks on asylum seekers' accommodation increased more than fivefold from 2014 to 2015, according to national crime statistics, while crimes targeting the homes of asylum-seekers also swelled, quadrupling to 1,031, including four attempted murders, eight explosives offences, 60 assaults and 94 arsons.

A report in September by Bild showed more than 500,000 rejected asylum seekers were still living in Germany, with many having received other permits to stay aside from asylum status, or being considered “tolerated” if they, for example, lacked travel documents.

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