Will the mood in Germany change now?

A Syrian man blew himself up and injured 15 others outside a music festival in Ansbach on Sunday. The authorities suspect the blast was Islamist motivated. After the axe attack in a regional train and the killing spree in Munich this latest attack has only compounded the state of shock in Germany. Commentators ask what impact all this will have on the country's attitude to refugees.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Tougher asylum rules won't do any good

Even if Germany does tighten its asylum law this won't stop attacks like the ones in Wurzburg and Ansbach, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argues:

“A country that takes in refugees must accept that it is also taking in the conflicts of their countries and that criminals will exploit the freedom of movement. ... The attempts to make asylum regulations even tighter, even better, speak of a fading German utopia. However much it is 'improved' German asylum law remains a third-rate immigration law that overtaxes all those who have anything to do with it, not least those who were enticed to come and are now being told to go. Those who now want to see the back of the refugees should have thought about this beforehand.”

Imerisia (GR) /

Terror could be Merkel's downfall

The terrorist acts in Germany could have major political consequences not just for the country but also for its chancellor, Imerisia fears:

“Firstly it could deal a heavy blow to Merkel that not only prevents her from running for a fourth term in office but also forces her to step down ahead of the elections in September 2017. … Secondly it could strengthen the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and facilitate the return of the FDP liberals to parliament - this time as a strongly right-wing party that sets itself even further apart from Horst Seehofer's CSU and Merkel's CDU. So a broad anti-immigration front could emerge that aims not only to close the borders but also to halt further European integration.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Only our fear threatens Europe

As understandable as the fear that has been spreading over the past week is, we must realise that fear itself is the greatest danger, warns Mladá fronta dnes:

“The wave of terrorist attacks is catching us as unawares as the wave of refugees a year ago. The first reaction is general alarm. But fear was never a good counselor. The attacks in Europe are for the most part the work of individuals rather than groups. And even if they talk big, neither IS nor al-Qaeda are capable of changing the way we live in Europe. They can only spread fear and wait for frustrated souls to succumb to their propaganda and attempt to carry out attacks. The only thing that can change Europe is our own fear, exploited by populists. The success of the Islamists and terrorists would only be confirmed if we allowed this fear to persuade us into voting for extremists in the future.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Acid test for German democracy

After four violent attacks within the space of a week the mood in Germany may be about to swing, El Periódico de Catalunya fears:

“Until now the far right and Pegida have simply used the refugees to criticise Merkel's asylum policy. Public debate is focussing more on tightening gun controls. But that doesn't mean that the fear won't turn into psychosis. The mood must not be allowed to turn against the refugees who are already victims of the war and IS. That must be a top priority for Merkel. The state and society in Germany (as in France) must take the acid test and resist the pull of the populism and racism spreading across Europe. If we want to stop fear from taking hold over German society and putting peaceful coexistence at risk we must guarantee information, transparency and the rule of law, and we must stand up to the populists and xenophobes. The strength of German democracy can serve as a mirror in which the rest of Europe sees itself reflected.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Don't tar all perpetrators with the same brush

The acts of violence of the last few weeks should not be lumped together indiscriminately, warns De Standaard:

“On the one extreme you have trained Syrian fighters with a clear battle plan who act in closed groups. On the other you have disturbed individuals whose fuse can blow at any given moment. And in between are all sorts of variations and combinations of the above. ... An increase in the number of different acts of extreme violence can corrode the very fabric of society. With every shocking attack it becomes more difficult to see the differences and nuances. ... But a lack of differentiation does not bring us closer to a solution. Attributing psychological breakdowns to the IS too won't help the cause of the fight against Islamist terror.”

Pravda (SK) /

Berlin will tighten its asylum policy

After the events of the past week Germany will have no option but to tighten its asylum policy, Pravda believes:

“Even if the politicians are appealing to reason - the multiple attacks came in such rapid succession that the people are no longer differentiating between what was the work of a rogue teen with a gun and what can be credited to IS. People are just scared. And that changes their attitude towards migrants. Especially as the authorities have information that there are 410 potential terrorists among the refugees. This all increases the pressure to rethink the liberal asylum policy. Radical changes won't be easy to implement but politicians can no longer ignore the public's growing nervousness.”

Super Express (PL) /

Keep pseudo-refugees out of Europe

Europe must close its borders immediately, the Super Express tabloid demands in the wake of the recent terrorists attacks and acts of violence.

“The influx of so-called refugees from Syria must be stopped as soon as possible. In reality most of these immigrants come from other Arab countries, from camps in Turkey, and what they want to escape is poverty. Phew! We're lucky the PO is no longer in power in Poland. ... At the moment the country feels like an oasis of peace. It was like this during the Nato summit. And hopefully it will stay that way for the World Youth Days which are just starting. After all, us Poles face another type of terror: not from IS militias but from a state called Russia and its cruel leader Putin. ”

ABC (ES) /

Of course immigrants are criminals

The very real connection between immigration and the Islamist threat must not be concealed, journalist Hermann Tertsch stresses in the conservative daily ABC:

“Many countries distort statistics to try to conceal the link between illegal immigration and crime. Thousands of sex offences and other crimes are covered up or trivialised. In the case of the Wurzburg attack there was no denying that the perpetrator was a Muslim refugee. … Politicians are afraid of the refugees that are already here and of those yet to come. They are afraid of Islamic communities that can't be controlled and refuse to cooperate with the police. But above all they are afraid of the voters, of revenge taken by a frightened society whose security they have put at risk for ideological reasons, and whose defence they are impeding. And all this because they are incapable of exposing in all its brutality the dramatic situation they themselves created with their policy of obfuscation.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Refugees particularly susceptible

Minister of the Chancellery Peter Altmaier has said that the attack in Wurzburg does not point to an increased risk of terrorist attacks by refugees in Germany. But this does not mean that to pose the question at all is playing into the hands of right-wing populists, the Tagesspiegel comments:

“Anyone who out of fear of garnering applause from the wrong camp shies away from the dispute, the controversy and the battle for the better argument, is creeping into an ideological snail shell. The disgraceful denial of certain connections after New Year's Eve in Cologne is a lesson and a warning in one. ... Anyone 15 years old who comes without their parents and family to a country that is very, very foreign to them, who doesn't speak the language, who feels lonely and abandoned and who is labelled as a potential terrorist because of their religion could definitely be susceptible to the wrong messages and to religious indoctrination. Every refugee who ends up in this fatal loop is one too many.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Germany shouldn't let everyone in

The German government's failed refugee policy is to blame for the attack in Wurzburg, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita writes:

“The case of the Wurzburg attacker shows how dangerous last year's influx of refugees could be unless the government takes vigorous steps to better integrate these newcomers. ... The main cause of the fiasco in Germany's integration of refugees is its failure to provide them with education. Last year 1.1 million refugees arrived in the country. Only 30,000 of them found work and some of that is subsidised by the state. ... Unlike the Poles who live in Britain, the Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans are a burden on the German budget.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Spreading terror was never easier

Attackers are identifying with the IS to give their violent acts political meaning, writes Die Presse in an analysis:

“The IS provides psychologically disturbed people with a stage. An Austrian court psychiatrist diagnosed a lack of empathy with other people's suffering in individuals returning from fighting for the IS. Now the IS is increasingly mobilising people who want to lend their killing sprees the appearance of political purpose. Does the IS ideology make these attackers go crazy or does their craziness lead them to the IS ideology? Never before has it been so easy to spread terror.”

More opinions

The Independent (GB) / 27 July 2016
  Open door policy protects Germany against terrorism
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) / 20 July 2016
  We must start gettting used to danger (in German)