2016 has registered a concerning increase in attacks against refugees and migrants in Germany.
In my last report, I wrote about the Berlin attack and about the importance of not being led by fear and hatred towards refugees and migrants. It is essential to understand that the awful action of a single man can not make us step backwards in our support of refugees and migrants running from bloody conflicts and death.
In 2016, almost everyday refugees and migrants have been the target of shameful attacks from people belonging to extreme-right wing groups. In Neubrandenburg, six Syrian asylum-seekers were intoxicated by the fire set in front of their house door. This fire is not an isolated case: there have been 142 arson attacks against shelters or accomodations hosting refugees or asylum-seekers. This datum is concerning both local and national authorities who are working hard to protect migrants, even though there was a public scandal related to the police of Cologne and their approach towards them. Indeed, they used the label: NAFRIS (North African Intensive Offenders) to refer at all the "non-European looking" people living in the city. During the last Silvester, thousands of cops were standing in front of Cologne central station, blocking every "Nafri" who was passing by for "security reasons". Of course, Berlin attack was a fresh memory, so they wanted to avoid a similar episode had been repeated once again in their city. If it was their aim, every passenger should have been checked as "potential terrorist", not only men with black eyes and brown hair or women wearing the hijab. Moreover, labeling someone as "Nafri" is not only highly offensive, but also misleading. Gathering all the migrants and refugees under only the "North African" origin is not correct, due to the presence in Germany of migrants coming from Asia to Latin America, from Africa to Europe itself.
The police of Cologne received many congratulations for their security job of Silvester from several parties going from the Greens to AFD. As long as politicians will support (in an explicit or implied way) the verbal or physical violence against refugees and migrants, who is committing them will feel himself/herself legitimated to perpetrate its xenophobic behavior. Angela Merkel and her "refugees welcome" policy are getting through a frightening crisis as this climate of intolerance and hatred is costantly rising up, above all in the East of the country, where Pegida and AFD are capturing most of the consensus. Anti-fascist organizations and student associations are always on alert, denouncing every xenophobic aggression. Moreover, the member universities of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) committed themeselves against xenophobia under the slogan Universities for openness, tolerance and against xenophobia. A good response of solidarity which makes hope that all the people fleeing from war and persecution will always find a place and people to rely on.
How to avoid the increase of this "refugees not-welcome" attitude? How to overcome the fears of many Germans who see into men and women from Syria or Eritrea possible criminals? The answer is not easy, we will need to brace ourselves into a battle of education and multiculturalism. Germany is not racist, but it can turn racist if we let extremist people lead our thoughts and actions.