A day before the New Year’s Eve, four drunken teenage refugees got violent in a German town, injuring a dozen random people. The asylum-seekers are nationals from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, most of them either awaiting an administrative nod to extend their stay, or an appeal to gain residency permit in Germany.
Among the four attackers, there was an Iranian without passport, a minor Afghan, another Afghan who has appealed against his deportation order.
Although none of the people injured in Amberg last Saturday suffered any fatal injury, the incident has rekindled the mass phobia of the natives that migrants are disrupting the socio-cultural fabric of Germany.
After Saturday’s incident, the Nürnberg chapter of the neo-Nazi party NPD took to the streets of Amberg, wearing red vests with the slogan “we create protective zones”. The extreme right-winged street patrol is divided into two groups, each group consisting around five people trying to instill a sense of “security” in the town. However, Amberg’s Mayor Michael Cerny, in an interaction with the media, stated that he did not approve of the NPD initiative.
“I can understand the uncertainty seen in some of the reactions of some Ambergers, but the hatred and the threats of violence from all over the country go way too far,” he said.
Since German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw open the doors of the country to refugees in 2015, there has been a mounting fear among the natives that “foreigners” would create problems in their soil, as most of the refugees are from Muslim countries with a different lifestyle.
Today Germany has over 1 million refugees, and the country is struggling to find everybody a place and a source of income. Most of the asylum-seekers are from war-torn nations with no specific skills or knowledge about the German language. Also, the stray incidents of immigrants attacking natives are intensifying the Germans’ aversion to refugees.
Incidents of immigrant violence like this could snowball into a political defeat for Chancellor Angela Merkel. Hailed as a messiah for her open door policy in 2015, attacks like the ones in Amberg can force her to toe the line with right wing conservatives.
But is Merkel to be blamed for these attacks? While some refugees are trying to extend their residency permits, plaintiffs are seeking to get a stay for their deportation orders. The Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the legal system looking after immigration have massive backlogs. With more than a million people seeking refuge, Germany has a mountain of asylum applications and appeals that it needs to clear. Even after 3 years of arrival, several migrants are stuck in a Catch 22 situation, uncertain if they will be gain permit to stay or be deported back.
Besides the broader politics of the European Union, there are numerous domestic issues that Germany is trying to grapple with. As asylum seekers await their fate in the hands of German authorities, random incidents of violence against the natives just aggravate the cases of thousands of hopefuls.