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October 2017
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Say it loud. Say it clear. Refugees have made us fear?

The incessant flow of refugees is questioning Germany’s possibilities and social stability. Angela Merkel’s policy of open door needs refurbishment.


Initially considered heaven on Earth for refugees, Germany is now facing increasing xenophobic attacks towards asylum seekers whose prevalence is stirring up the tolerance boiling point of locals.

Germany’s role of a sanctuary, designated for immigrants due to war circumstances, has been severely shaken up by arson attacks on refugee centers, swastikas depicted on walls and assaults on the hosted immigrants. The xenophobic backlash of some German citizens towards the “avalanche” of refugees has seen the Paris terror in November gain an influential role for the rising conservatism towards Muslim representatives.

Indeed, the Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sister party, has called for a reconsideration of the open door policy to limit the uncontrolled refugee waves. According to the interior ministry, Germany has registered a total of 967,574 asylum seekers as the pending 300,000 refugee applications are placing the frightening estimates of expecting nearly 1.5 million refugees in the end of this year.

“The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can’t continue just like that. One million is way too much. Paris changes everything,” Soeder was quoted in an interview for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Although the interior minister Thomas de Maiziere pointed out the daily refugee arrivals have decreased from 10,000 to around 2,000-3,000 for the first time in 2015, Germany’s social stability is at stake.

Paris terror conservatism

The domino effect of the Paris attacks, for which IS claimed responsibility, is triggering a growing Islamophobia throughout chancellor Angela Merkel’s nation as ISIS’ strategy of “conquer and divide” appears to manifest itself quite rapidly. The UK Business Insider reports that protests held by PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”) are progressively attracting more and more anti-refugee demonstrators.

Banner at PEGIDA protest reads “Give Islam no chance”.

Banner at PEGIDA protest reads “Give Islam no chance”.

Furthermore, the AfD, far-right wing German party, is continuously gaining popularity as fears of ISIS infiltrating the refugee waves are driving the public paranoia about security issues. The concern for homeland security could cause a volcanic eruption of both social tension between locals and immigrants and social division between pro- and anti-immigrant protesters.

The lava of social pressure is gradually silencing the songs and applauses for refugees. Last week’s investigation of Die Zeit showed that since the start of 2015 around 750 crimes have been committed towards asylum seekers as a result of the multiplying xenophobic views.

Letterings such as “Refugees go home” in southern Germany are increasing throughout the country.

Letterings such as “Refugees go home” in southern Germany are increasing throughout the country.

Despite Merkel’s promise that the people responsible for the hate crimes would be fully prosecuted, only 4 attackers have been convicted so far. The main remark of Timo Reinfrank, program director at the counter neo-Nazism Amadeu Antonio Foundation, for the Agence France-Presse was that “plain luck” has prevented deaths in refugee attacks until now.

Refugee overcrowding issues

Beneath the pile of greeting banners and welcome signs for asylum seekers lies a potential dormant volcano waiting to erupt into social conflicts if the refugees are not integrated properly. Acrimonious debates about the refugees are further fuelled by even minor displacements of local Germans. For instance, The Guardian revealed in Bavaria elderly women are forced to downsize their apartments to accommodate asylum seekers or youth community projects are constricted to move out in order to shelter refugees.

Such practices overtaking the daily routine of Germans are causing the social discontent as the relocation of locals shows that the maximum quota has been reached as the head of Bavaria’s regional council Wolfgang Rzehak pinpointed.

Following the concerns of overcrowding, Merkel has introduced screening at the national borders and the European Union has funded Turkey with 3 billion euros to withhold the incoming refugee waves. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Merkel believes that the refugee crisis can be solved by reconciling the conflict in Syria and improving the conditions for asylum seekers in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

However, the German chancellor has fallaciously been ignoring the potential threats of limiting arriving immigrants. The Mother Theresa of the refugees, Angela Merkel, seems to forget that her genuine lessons of moral imperialism and enlightening humanness are lacking a directive for preserving the social order within the country. What is consequently on the public agenda after the settlement of the refugees is the question “Now what?”

Now what?

The Guardian reflects that the German chancellor has responded by creating a scheme for each ministry to take responsibility for every aspect from transportation to education of the asylum seekers’ establishment. Nevertheless, German refugee centers are more than seemingly having too much on their plate as reports of clashes between residents for food or the toilets are continuously circulating the public air.

Behind the impressive generosity, the pull factor for refugees issued by Merkel is a response to the need for young migrant workers to reinvigorate life to the German economy, the largest in Europe, by filling over 500,000 job vacancies in diverse industries. The low birth rate and the high life expectancy have brought about the aging German population. Indeed, The New Yorker reports that the average age of a German worker is 46 years whereas incoming refugees display an average age of 29 years.

Labor market

Graphic by Institute for Employment Research shows the need for refugees to fill job vacancies.

However, Merkel needs to realize that amongst the highly qualified and educated migrants a plethora of illiterate and low-skilled people have arrived from the Middle East. An ineffective integration of the asylum seekers could prove to be the turning point as their unemployment is causing concerns for radicalization and potential crimes out of poverty motives.

The Turkish integration illustrated that forgetting the human dimension of the workers can trigger segregation in the German multicultural society.

A call rests upon the German government to establish a ratification process for the asylum seekers by acknowledging them not as breathing machines but valuing their human dimension, culture, and identity.

The previous episode of an open door policy for the Turkish immigrants was described as a “mistake” by the former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt in an interview for Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. “The concept of multiculturalism is difficult to make fit with a democratic society,” he further added. The major failure of preventing the social marginalization of today’s 3.5 million people of Turkish descent was due to the lack of other than utilitarian recognition for the Turkish community.

A light in the tunnel

The immediate assimilation of the European values is yet hard for refugees, especially those with rigid moral principles. The honorable cause in the short run still has to see its long-term solution. A key method for preventing the escalation of violence in Germany is more resources to be allocated not only on policing but also on educating and integrating the asylum seekers by employing them, teaching them German and schooling their children.

The rapid immigration and the lack of gradual adaptation drives the tectonic plates of the Judeo-Christian values and the Muslim morals bound to collide in a clash of the civilizations. Nevertheless, it is up to Germany to determine the magnitude of this future social seismic activity and consequently, its gravity, primarily by acknowledging the asylum seekers as integral members of society.

As reported by Spiegel Online, implementing such policies should, however, not come at the expense of budget cuts for the local German population to secure the extra 1 billion euros needed for Germany to effectively be the safe refugee heaven.

Merkel’s lesson of solidarity and humane approach to the dysfunctional European Union on the refugee waves will cause even her most fierce opponents to repeat her initially mocked mantra of “We can do this”. And if any nation can be the silver lining in the dark clouds of securing refugee asylum and integration, it certainly is Germany.

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