BERLIN (Own report) – With last weekend’s arson attack on a refugee home, the bombing attempt on a supporter of refugees and the siege of a refugee hostel by a hostile mob of locals, Germany’s recent wave of racist violence has taken on a new quality. It is only fortunate that no one was murdered in these recent attacks. At the same time, attacks on refugee housing are becoming dramatically more frequent. Already during the first half of 2015, the number of attacks has reached that of the entire year of 2014. For years, observers have been warning that initiatives against refugee hostels are firmly taking root locally and are increasing their abilities to mobilize. The political establishment and the media have regularly provided legitimization to the anti-refugee campaign, using racist clichés, for example, in the debate around the SPD politician Thilo Sarrazin’s publications or with their derogatory insinuations about migrants. Last winter, the campaign against refugees was mobilizing tens of thousands for the “Pegida” street demonstrations. Moreover, in spite of the escalation of anti-refugee violence, the slander continues.
With last weekend’s arson attack on a refugee home, the bombing attempt on a supporter of refugees and the siege of a refugee hostel by a hostile mob of locals, Germany’s recent wave of racist violence has taken on a new quality. This violence includes attacks that could have been fatal.
In the small town of Mainstockheim, in the vicinity of Wurzburg, a refugee hostel was immediately evacuated, after several hundred local Germans, threatening to use force, had besieged the building. According to reports, local residents showed up last Thursday, at the refugee shelter carrying baseball bats and bicycle chains. On the weekend, up to 300 local residents, some carrying knives and battering equipment, had surrounded the refugee quarters. The police, who had been called to protect the building, spoke of an “explosive atmosphere.” The refugees, who had been housed in Mainstockheim, will now be housed elsewhere. Already Friday evening, a tent city, earmarked to serve as temporary housing for refugees, was attacked in Dresden. Following an anti-refugee demonstration sponsored by the NPD, NPD followers attacked the tent city with bottles and stones, also injuring employees of the German Red Cross (DRK), who were in the process of installing the tents. The improvised shelters were supposed to house around 1,100 Syrian refugees, who, hardly having been able to escape the civil war at home, now find themselves confronted with German neo-Nazis in Dresden.
A new Dimension
Since some time, specialists have been warning that there could be an escalating wave of racist violence in Germany. Back in 2013, observers had noticed that over an extended period, local anti-refugee initiatives had been growing more popular – and that neo-Nazis were involved. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In 2014, experts were indicating that there was “an alarmingly new dimension” to local anti-refugee initiatives “both in terms of the frequency” as well as “their ability to mobilize” along with “the acute threat of the situation” as compared to the situation in 2013. At the end of 2014, the “Pegida” demonstrations, mobilizing tens-of-thousands to weekly street rallies against refugees, were initiated. Rightwing extremist forces provided ostentatious support. The mass agitation created the atmosphere for this escalation of violence, which already last year had begun making itself noticeable, and, over the past few days, taking on a new quality.
Deportation as Soon as Possible
Stirring antipathy toward refugees continues – even though critics have regularly been warning that this is contributing to an escalation in racist violence. On various occasions, Bavaria’s Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer, has evoked a “widespread abuse of asylum.” For refugees, for whom officials foresee little chance of their receiving residence authorization, Seehofer now intends to establish refugee camps very close to Bavaria’s borders, to be better able to deport them, as soon as possible, once their application has been refused. The German government’s Commissioner for Immigration, Refugees and Integration, Aydan Özoguz (SPD), sees this initiative as questionable, but declares that it is “in any case, an idea.” In Bavaria, it is claimed that a tent city would suffice, for this purpose. The disparaging treatment meted out to refugees is simply new grist to the mills of those demonstrating against refugees on the streets. The explosive atmosphere, on the other hand, is facilitating racist violence.