Do Berlin's counter-terrorism plans make sense?

More police on the streets and swifter deportation of foreigners offenders and those deemed a threat to public safety are two key elements of the security package presented by Germany's Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière. At the same time he rejects a general burqa ban. Such a ban would indeed be pointless, commentators agree, stressing that democratic freedoms should not be surrendered to enhanced security.

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Dennik N (SK) /

Burqa ban would be pointless

German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière's opposition to a ban on the burqa is very sensible, argues Dennik N:

“Demands like this might seem to promise quick results, which is why they are so popular with politicians. But they are basically just gimmicks. ... France has enforced a burqa ban for several years and it has achieved nothing. Not a single one of the terrorist attacks carried out in France or elsewhere in Europe in recent years was perpetrated by a woman in a burqa. In fact, the more terrorists blend in with the people around them, the higher their chances of success. ... We can stop women who work in public institutions from wearing the burqa. But a blanket ban is counterproductive, whether we like the burqa or not.”

El País (ES) /

Democracy must not be compromised

El País approves of Germany's catalogue of measures in the fight against terror but warns against a loss of democratic freedoms:

“Withdrawing the passports of foreign nationals who have fought for the IS and deporting refugees who represent a threat are among the measures announced, as well as boosting police resources. The new characteristics of terrorism in which both organised networks and lone wolves are active make it necessary to increase surveillance and improve coordination because this is the only way to combat the fear and populism that are the cancer of the European project. But for these measures to work they must have broad-based support from all political parties and Germany must not compromise its democratic freedoms in implementing them.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Measures just a pretence of security

The proposals put forward by de Maizière are nothing but action for action's sake, taz rails:

“After the Paris attacks the government reacted by flying reconnaissance missions against the IS - a rather futile measure from a military standpoint. Back then as now we saw the same pattern: look like you're doing something after an attack, instead of simply letting the police and judiciary do their work. ... Even the best police force in the world can't track down every potential attacker before it's too late. Even Thomas de Maizière knows that. When he presented his security package he stated very correctly that no one can guarantee absolute security. However his proposals suggest the contrary. That's worrying. What will the Union suggest if an attack like the one in Nice takes place in Germany?”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Europe needs to take coordinated action

Germany's counter-terrorism package could be a model for all Europe, La Vanguardia comments:

“Merkel had to react for two major reasons, firstly her responsibility as German leader and secondly her waning popularity, which after the wave of attacks dipped by twelve points in less than a month. … The security measures Germany adopts are important not just for stabilising the situation within the country but also because they may become a reference for other European nations. … Germany and Europe can only win the fight against terrorism with more resources and improved coordination. We have a long way to go and Europe is facing several major crises right now: Brexit, populism, the economy. … But these gaps in the common political project should be closed completely when it comes to security policy. Because our lives depend on it.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

More than just a symbolic policy

Whether it proves effective or not the German government's security package was sorely needed, writes De Volkskrant:

“Measures such as more police on the streets and upgraded equipment are pretty uncontroversial. Things get more complicated when it comes to withdrawing German citizenship or deporting criminal refugees. Such measures can be announced, but how effective they will be in practice remains to be seen. … Critics are trying to write off the whole package as symbolic and reduce it to an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of the Alternative for Germany party. But this fails to take account of the seriousness of the situation. The German government is right to do its best to allay the public's fear of attacks. The package it has presented isn’t exactly original and parts of it can be criticised. But unfortunately these plans are a bitter necessity.”