The Current

'Refugees welcome' policy faces backlash after Germany attacks

A week of violence and death in Germany has some asking if the country was right to welcome so many refugees last year. And those concerns are prompting blame on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's controversial immigration policies.
A Syrian migrant set off an explosion at a bar in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others, July 24, 2016. The 27-year-old, who had spent a stint in a psychiatric facility, had intended to target a music festival in the city of Ansbach but was turned away because he did not have a ticket. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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The attacks in Germany have sent shock waves through the country leaving many Germans wondering if the country's "refugees welcome" policy has been a mistake.

Since last summer, over a million people — mainly Syrians —  have arrived in Germany.

Now, the burst of violence in the last week has some asking questions about whether it was a good idea for the nation to open its doors to so many refugees.

Nina Schick, a communications director with Open Europe, tells The Current's host Laura Lynch that she thinks "what might happen now is that the chancellor ... will be blamed."

Schick says future violence "may be the new normal" and points to how politicians failed Germany last year.

"If you don't take along the public and explain to them why you are doing something ... if you make policy based on emotion rather than controlling it and thinking of the long-term consequences, you inevitably lose public support."

Marcel Dirsus, a lecturer at the University of Kiel in northern Germany can understand why people may be blaming Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel but doesn't feel it's the right reaction.

"People criticize Merkel for being very calculating and being overly analytical, and not really standing for anything and not having a vision. This was certainly an instance where she made up her mind ... and she went through with it."

Candles and flowers lie in front of the Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping centre in Munich, Germany. David Ali Sonboly went on a shooting spree, July 22, 2016, in what appears to have been a premeditated attack, before turning the gun on himself. (Christof Staceh/AFP/Getty Images)

Dirsus tells Lynch it's too early to say if opening Germany's borders is a success as there are clearly difficulties but says "no one said there would be no difficulties."

According to a poll released last week by the German national broadcaster ZDF, at least 77 per cent of Germans believe a terrorist attack is imminent.

"When people talk about this imminent apocalypse that is supposedly about to happen in Germany, I think that's misguided," says Dirsus.

It's too early to say what will happen in the polls for Merkel according to Dirsus.

"I can see two things happening," he tells Lynch. "People will blame Merkel because she is personally and closely associated with this policy."

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"The other option that I can see is that people say in these turbulent times we need calm and steady leadership and this is something that Angela Merkel embodies."

Dirsus says the parties to the left of Merkel were also supportive of welcoming the refugees and says "all the major political parties in Germany were in favor of this."

Schick agrees Merkel is a calculating politicians but feels the German chancellor "did not realize the scale" of her decision to open borders.

"Merkel is not only losing political support domestically with her Bavarian sister party, and also the rise of the populist AfD," Schick tells Lynch.

"Also you see the consequences of her having burnt political capital by trying to share the burden on the EU stage amongst her EU partners," says Schick.

Looking forward, Dirsus tells Lynch that regulating the borders is necessary.

"People who support this policy would say that this is not something that can happen every year, you know the system is designed for maybe taking a fifth of the number of people that we took in last year."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant, Kristin Nelson and Ines Colabrese.