Security was never an issue in Germany–at least, not since the fall of the Berlin Wall. People felt thoroughly safe; the police existed merely to hand out parking tickets, just as the military existed only for representative purposes. In 2015, this status quo unexpectedly changed. Terrorist attacks in France and threats of the same in Germany left people feeling suddenly insecure; moreover, the immense flow of migrants into Germany engendered political tumult which amplified this growing fear. On one side, chancellor Merkel has encouraged warm welcoming of the immigrants, whereas on the other side, a nationalist anti-immigrant movement has acutely strengthened. Demonstrations were mobilized on both sides.
In conflict zones, children and women dream of coming to Germany, a seemingly safe haven.
Promises of a secure, hospitable, and economically strong host country were diffused across the world, attracting many refugees. Unfortunately, the reality isn’t quite representative of these promises. Several refugee camps and shelters were set on fire; guards were even persecuted for mistreatment of refugees. Although the counter-movement is very strong from both the government and the population, it is worrisome to see the rise of nationalist extremism–not only in Germany, but also all over Europe.
2016 has already begun on the wrong foot. On New Year’s Eve, a group of men assaulted young women in public streets, which revved right extremist supporters as most assailants were from the Middle East.
In response to a general safety concern among the population, many parties have called for strengthening the security apparatus.
As for Europe, Germany is urging the states to stand together rather than to abide by nationalist isolation movements. The rest of the World, especially the Middle East and North Africa, are of deep concern as well. Although Germany has been hesitant to do so due to its history, it will (have to) step up its game militarily. Currently, the Bundeswehr is active in Afghanistan, and has provided arms in the fight against ISIS.
The peaceful illusion of Europe as an oasis is gradually fading away. Germany, concerned with the international and domestic security, feels the most important task is to stand united against nationalist extremism, terrorism, and oppression, because only together we can find peace.
by Pauline F.