KANDEL, Germany — It happened between neatly stacked rows of shampoo and organic baby meals: A teenage boy walked up to his ex-girlfriend in the neighborhood drugstore, pulled out a kitchen knife with an eight-inch blade and stabbed her in the heart.
The death in Kandel, in southwestern Germany, on Dec. 27 has traumatized this sleepy town of barely ten,000 inhabitants, not just due to the fact both the suspect and the victim were just 15 years old and went to the regional school, but also since the boy is an Afghan migrant and the girl was German.
From the moment Germany opened its doors to far more than a million migrants two years ago, prominent episodes like the Berlin Christmas industry attack and the New Year’s molestation and rapes in Cologne have stoked German insecurities.
But the case of the two teenagers, Abdul D. and Mia V., has struck a specific nerve since the killing occurred in such a quiet and provincial setting and the two men and women involved had been so young. It became national news, was debated over dinner tables, on talk shows and on social media sites, and reinforced fears that Germany is becoming ever less protected.
But perceptions are a single issue, and statistics are one more. Reported crimes have edged up more than the previous two years, but over all, violent crimes have been trending downward for a decade in Germany, which remains 1 of the safest nations in Europe.
Nonetheless, each and every crime involving a migrant or asylum seeker has turn into a fresh occasion for national hand-wringing.
Anything has shifted in Germany. Not so long ago, the logistical challenge and price of integrating new migrants nevertheless dominated the public debate. These days, the expanding unease with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migration policy has reached a new and febrile stage.
“I am scared,” said Jana Weigel, a 24-year-old dental assistant, as she lit a candle outside the DM drugstore exactly where the killing took location.
Calls have multiplied for mandatory healthcare exams to determine the age of migrants claiming to be minors and for swifter deportations of those who — like the suspect — have been denied asylum.
A preliminary coalition agreement amongst Ms. Merkel’s conservatives and the much more liberal Social Democrats announced on Friday involves a cap of 220,000 refugees per year and strictly limits the quantity of loved ones members allowed to join a refugee in Germany.
Even in proudly tolerant and left-voting Kandel, the mood on the street has hardened. Several here took the killing personally. Ahead of Mia broke up with Abdul, he had been welcomed into her household, Ms. Weigel pointed out, much like the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been welcomed to Germany.
“It makes you consider,” she mentioned, “how several other people will betray our hospitality.”
Ms. Weigel’s sense of insecurity was reinforced by a extensively publicized study displaying that the quantity of reported crimes in the state of Lower Saxony had risen by more than 10 % more than the previous two years and that the boost could be attributed overwhelmingly to instances involving refugees.
Half of that improve is due to the reality that crimes involving migrants are twice as most likely to be reported, the authors of the study mentioned. A lot of of the folks accused of crimes are young men under 30, a demographic that is most probably to commit crimes, even amongst Germans.
Less publicized was the other major discovering of the report: Over all, violent crime, including murder and rape, remains nicely beneath its 2007 peak. The quantity of young offenders has decreased by half since then.
“The paradox is that Germany is nonetheless a really secure country, considerably safer than even a couple of years ago,” mentioned Christian Pfeiffer, a criminologist and a co-author of the report, which was commissioned by the government and released last week. “But the perception is the opposite: Folks feel less protected. And when some thing like this murder takes place, it confirms that feeling.”
Ask the Germans paying their respects at the ad hoc memorial for the girl who was killed — a sea of candles and messages and photos of her with close friends — and they will reel off a list of crimes committed by migrants: a German woman who was raped by a Sudanese migrant in the nearby town of Speyer a few days earlier, another woman who was raped and strangled by an Afghan in Freiburg just more than a year ago.
Ms. Weigel, who has a 2-year-old daughter, no longer leaves the residence following dark. Final month, a terrorist attack was narrowly foiled at an ice rink in nearby Karlsruhe, a 30-minute drive away.
“It feels like we’ve lost manage,” Ms. Weigel mentioned. “The state has lost manage.”
Kandel is an orderly town of tastefully restored medieval homes and shops that close for lunch. It is also house to 125 refugees, most of them from Syria or Afghanistan.
Till Mia was killed, “there was never a problem,” stated Günther Tielebörger, Kandel’s mayor. He represents the Social Democrats, extended the strongest party in the town. The far-correct Alternative for Germany, or AfD, received significantly less than 10 % of the vote in the last election.
Kandel has a extended tradition of tolerance. Three centuries ago, it welcomed Huguenot refugees from France. Where other villages in the region constructed a wall inside their churches to preserve Catholics and Protestants apart, Kandel ripped down its wall and shared the church. 1 of the very best restaurants in town serving regional specialties like “pig’s stomach” is run by a Turk.
But this tolerance is now becoming tested.
Maja Mathias, 53, performs in a regional French bakery and has Turkish neighbors and a Croatian brother-in-law. “I have no problem with foreigners,” she said, standing behind a counter featuring freshly baked baguettes and pretzels. “But there is always the fear: What else is coming?”
Beyond worry, the killing has stirred other resentments.
“German retirees who have worked hard for 45 years get less than the refugees,” stated Knoll Pede, 64, a town maintenance worker. He is no fan of President Trump, he mentioned, “but I wouldn’t mind our politicians to do a bit of ‘Germany Initial.’”
Such talk worries Mr. Tielebörger, the mayor. The advantages migrants acquire are far significantly less generous than Germans may possibly think, he mentioned, and a lot of of the migrants are barred from function until their asylum applications have been processed. But the optics matter.
“Germans really feel neglected,” Mr. Tielebörger mentioned.
“We need to have to wake up,” he mentioned. Otherwise, he added, the left will drop votes to the appropriate.
A single of Mr. Tielebörger’s former colleagues in neighborhood government is Heiko Wildberg, a former member of the liberal pro-immigration Greens celebration. Mr. Wildberg is now a lawmaker for the nationalist AfD in Berlin. For him, Mia’s killing was a “turning point.”
“This is not Berlin or Cologne we are in little-town Germany,” he stated. “This murder shows that the reality of the migrant crisis has arrived in the German province.”
The AfD was rapid off the mark, organizing a silent march by way of Kandel two days after the killing. The a lot more extremist National Celebration of Germany followed suit.
Meanwhile, the local advantages workplace in Kandel had to barricade its doors due to the fact its workers had received so several threats. “Accomplices,” anonymous messages referred to as them.
Some right here accuse the authorities of not carrying out sufficient to safeguard Mia. Abdul had stalked her on-line and in particular person and beaten up one particular of her classmates in a match of jealousy.
On Dec. 15, her parents had reported him to the police. Twelve days later, as she was purchasing with friends, he stabbed her repeatedly with a knife he had bought in a supermarket next door. She later died of her wounds.
Right after her father told the German tabloid Bild that her ex-boyfriend “was certainly not 15,” demands for healthcare exams to verify the claims of refugees who say they are minors have been revived.
The ethics commission of the body representing Germany’s medical doctors has said that such tests — which incorporate X-rays of hand, collar and jaw bones as properly as genital exams — violate “bodily integrity” and can be inaccurate by up to two years.
They have nonetheless turn into a rallying cry at the highest level of politics.
“In all instances, exactly where no official and actual document is presented, we require to decide the age in one more way, if required by way of healthcare examinations,” mentioned the conservative interior minister, Thomas de Maizière.
When Abdul arrived in Germany in April 2016, he said he was 14, and apparently none of the officials registering him raised critical doubts about his age. As portion of the court case against him, a series of healthcare exams will now seek to confirm his age.
Austria, Sweden and the German state of Saarland are among the areas conducting such exams routinely.
There is an incentive for migrants to be listed as below 18. Government positive aspects, access to German lessons and job opportunities are better for minors. In Saarland, far more than a third of the migrants who were tested appeared to be more than 18.
Most of the unaccompanied-minor migrants are integrating well, stated Anne Spiegel, the integration minister for the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which consists of Kandel. “They are attending school, learning German and signing up for apprenticeships,” she mentioned.
Nevertheless, officials like Mr. Tielebörger, the mayor, say that each transgression by a migrant gets disproportionate attention, major to the opposite impression.
There was yet another shocking homicide in Kandel in current weeks, he pointed out. A man killed his wife and two youngsters. That one did not make the national news.
“If the boy had been German,” Mr. Tielebörger mentioned, “we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Published at Thu, 18 Jan 2018 01:56:36 +0000