Name: Ekaterina Polynina

School: State Institute of Economics, Finance, Law and Technology, Gatchina, Russia

Status: Student

Level: Undergraduate

Growth of nationalism in Germany

Today we can see that xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise in Europe. A vivid example of this is Germany. According to a study conducted by the Leipzig University, every tenth German citizen wants the country to be ruled by "the Fuhrer". The survey showed that Germans are dissatisfied with the situation in the country and they need a leader "with a firm hand". So, about 34% of 2240 respondents believe that Germany is "dangerously overpopulated by foreigners", while 11% of respondents said they had too great influence of Jews in society. Four out of ten citizens consider it necessary to prohibit the Muslims to immigrate to Germany, and half of the respondents admitted that they feel "foreigners" in their own country. Moreover, we hear a lot about conflicts between the new arrivals and local residents. For instance, about 100 people took part in the clashes between the refugees and the nationalists in eastern Germany in September this year. The clashes occurred in the city of Bautzen in Saxony, they were attended by about 80 local citizens who, according to police, "belong to the right-wing political forces", and about 20 refugees, mostly young men. The parties to the conflict insulted each other verbally, used physical force and threw bottles. Also, the increase in attacks on refugee centres is happening. The locals set fire to the buildings which are supposed to be a shelter for migrants.

No doubt, everything happens for a reason. There were registered 890 thousand refugees in 2015 in Germany. Thomas de Maizière, German Federal Minister of the Interior, said that this year 213 thousand refugees arrived in Germany. Of course, it made a big influence on the situation in the country. Many acts of terrorism were caused. 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan attacked a passenger train with a hatchet on the 18th of July. 18-year-old West German citizen of Iranian origin shot dead nine people in one of the shopping centres of Munich on the 22nd of July. 21-year-old refugee from Syria rushed with a machete on people at the kebab stall and killed one woman in Reutlingen on the 24th of July. Late on the evening of 24 July, 27-year-old refugee from Syria tried to blow up a restaurant in Ansbach. The suitcase exploded near the building of the Service for migrants in Zirndorf on the 27th of July. A peculiar result of rampant crime and growing terrorist threat was the attack on the Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin. An illegal migrant from Tunisia Anis Amri drove the truck to the territory of Christmas fair, having killed 12 people and injured 48. The killer escaped from the scene of the crime, but in less than four days was shot by Milanese police. Responsibility for the attack in Berlin took the group "Islamic State." Another outrageous case occurred at the beginning of this year. New Year celebrations in the German city of Cologne descended into chaos with a series of sexual assaults, including a rape. The attackers were described by witnesses to police as a crowd of intoxicated men of “Arab or North African” origin. Aged between 15 and 35, individuals in the crowd began throwing firecrackers and setting off fireworks as the new year arrived. As a consequence, dramatically increased the demand for means of self-defense. Many politicians started to criticize migration policy of the German government. Margot Parker, Member of the European Parliament for the UK Independence Party, said: «The German Chancellor certainly gave a message that ‘all are welcome’ and many of my colleagues, and I certainly thought, that this was a pretty irresponsible thing to do. There is a massive problem; they don’t seem to be able to control it. Without having sort of holding camps with open borders, Germany really exasperated this problem. What happened in Cologne has been very much a wake-up call. I think it’s a shock to a lot of people and certainly it wasn’t right that the mayor of Cologne has basically said that women need to have a code of conduct, which is of course completely unacceptable. Women are not second-class citizens. It is not their fault this happened. You can’t have hundreds of thousands of young men coming into society where they’re not really equipped or where they come from they can’t necessarily fit into EU countries. That’s an enormous problem, which I believe they’ve really not thought about, and it’s got to be thought about.»  The popularity of the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA increased: right-wing demonstration in Cologne was attended by over a thousand people on the 9th of January. According to the head of the local branch of the party, Hendrik Rottmann, people will inevitably take matters into their own hands if the government cannot ensure the security of citizens. The results of the survey held in July this year showed that the majority of Germans do not trust Chancellor Angela Merkel’s claim that the country will successfully handle its refugee crisis. The question put to the public was: «What is your attitude to Merkel’s statement ‘We can do it’ which she said several times in relation to the high number of refugees and the need to accept them in Germany?». At least 66 percent of the respondents said that they do not agree with the chancellor’s policy towards refugees, while 27 percent support Merkel, the survey said.

Therefore, over the past two years, as Merkel has welcomed Muslim refugees and led the bailouts of struggling European economies such as Greece, populist sentiments have surged — and the "Alternative for Germany" (AfD) is now reaping the rewards. The AfD’s platform is a collection of right-wing themes: EU reform, closed borders and a return to the Germany of yesteryear, before what many of its members and supporters refer to as the “Islamization” of Europe. The party seeks to ban large minarets and the call to prayer, and require Muslim preachers to undergo government vetting. “Islam does not belong in Germany,” the platform states. According to analysts, the majority of AfD voters previously supported Merkel, and voted for parties in the chancellor’s ruling coalition. But, says Kai Arzheimer, a professor of politics at the University of Mainz, one-third of AfD voters are formerly non-voters, people who were so disillusioned by the established parties that they simply didn’t vote. Some, he says, even voted for socialist left wing parties in the past. All of these voters have one thing in common: they are tired of apologizing for their national history. “We have this problem in Germany where you’re not allowed to love your country because if you do, you’re considered a Nazi,” says Sarah Leins, a 30-year-old AfD supporter. “We have to overcome this.”

To sum up, EU policy aimed at assimilation of refugees and migrants from the Middle East, and attempt to instill European values was on the verge of failure due to acts of terrorism and soaring crime rates. Despite the fact that the EU has managed to reduce the flow of refugees from more than a million people in 2015 to 355 thousand in 2016, and Angela Merkel is ready to change the laws of Germany and deport migrants who have not received refugee status, in general, European leaders failed to solve the issue of migrants so as to guarantee the security of its own citizens.

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