Following a series of violent incidences in Germany over the weekend, the migrant crisis has re-emerged in headlines across Europe, pushing the issue to the forefront of several international media circles. Last year, Germany opened its borders to more than a million refugees, the majority of which were fleeing the conflict in Syria, as well as violence in Afghanistan and Iraq. The move, pioneered by Chancellor Angela Merkel, garnered much support in its early days, in what Arabic news channel ‘Al Jazeera’ famously attributed to as being part of Germany’s Wilkommenskultur (welcoming culture). However, the four recent attacks in Germany, France, Belgium, and Turkey have put pressure on even some of Merkel’s own supporters, worsening a climate of fear and intolerance towards the ever-growing refugee crisis present at Europe’s doorstep.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reports that more than 1. 8 million migrants have crossed into Europe in 2015 via a combination of land and sea methods. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 3,770 of these migrants were reported to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean – overcrowding and poor condition of the boats are thought to have been the main factors accounting for the disaster. Over the course of the year, tensions in Germany, and beyond, across the EU have been rising due to the economic stress placed on particular countries, especially where the majority of migrants have arrived, such as in Greece, Italy, and Hungary.
Although Germany has had the most asylum applications in 2015, Hungary comes in at a close second, despite closing off its borders in Croatia during October of the previous year in an attempt to abate the influx of migrants. Its government has been incredibly vocal about its critique of Merkel’s policies with the sharp increase in asylum seekers passing through their states. What’s even more worrying is at home, in Germany, where waves of anti-foreign sentiment are growing stronger for new right-wing political groups, such as the ‘Eurosceptic Alternative fur Deutschland’ (AfD) is gaining traction. On Monday, the group brought Merkel’s liberal policies back into the spotlight, saying that under
“the current ideology of a dangerous ‘multiculturalism,’ [that] the country’s domestic security and the order of Germany keeps getting destroyed.”
There has been ample pressure to tighten security laws and vamp up the country’s border controls as citizens fear another terrorist target. However, Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, has warned the nation that “Unfortunately, it is still not possible to provide a guarantee to prevent attacks always and everywhere.” Instead, he opted for a “good integration policy” of new arrivals as a preventative security measure.