An Explosion in Ansbach and a Machete Attack in Reutlingen, Germany
A 27-year-old Syrian man was killed and 12 people were injured after a device he was carrying exploded outside a music festival on Sunday after 10pm. Whether this was meant as a suicide bombing or whether the man planned to place the bomb in order to injure others, is not clear yet.
The man, whose identity is not yet confirmed, was denied asylum a year ago and had a history of two suicide attempts. Before the explosion, he attempted to enter the Ansbach open music festival where Jethro Tull were scheduled to play in front of a crowd of 2,000 people, but he was denied entrance. The contents of the man’s back pack, metal items for wood manufacturing, possibly nails or screws, pointed out that this might have been a terrorist attack. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Ansbach, Michael Schrotberger, said the attacker's motive was unclear: "If there is an Islamist link or not is purely speculation at this point."
The Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, told reporters in a news conference early on Monday that: "It’s terrible that someone who came into our country to seek shelter has now committed such a heinous act and injured a large number of people who are at home here, some seriously." He added that, "It's a further, horrific attack that will increase the already growing security concerns of our citizens. We must do everything possible to prevent the spread of such violence in our country by people who came here to ask for asylum."
The newspaper Deutsche Presse-Agentur quotes the interior minister who believes that this was possibly an Islamist attack: “My personal opinion is that I unfortunately think it is very obvious that there has been a real Islamist suicide attack here. The obvious intent to kill more people at least indicates an Islamist background.”
It is feared that the incident might create further public disquiet in relation to the country’s liberal refugee policy which enabled more than a million migrants, the majority of them fleeing wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, to enter Germany the past year. According to Reuters, “a leader of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) posted a Twitter message after the Munich shooting that said, ‘Merkel's unity party: thank you for the terror in Germany and Europe!’ The message was later deleted.”
Earlier on Sunday, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested after he had killed with a machete a pregnant woman and injured two other people in the southwestern city of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. The man who was arrested after he had been run over by motorist, had no clear motive and one of his victims was a 45-year-old Polish woman with whom he was working with at the same kebab shop.
Germany under Attack
The explosion came as Germany has been recovering from last week’s horrors. It is the fourth violent episode in Germany in a week. Two days earlier, an 18-year-old German Iranian gunman killed nine people and left dozens wounded at a Munich mall. He had lured them through a fake Facebook account that promised free food in a McDonald’s outside Munich Olympia mall. On Sunday evening, 1,500 people gathered at the scene lighting candles and placing flowers in tribute to the victims. The boy had been planning the attack for a year. Investigators found photographs on his camera showing that he visited the German town of Winnenden where in 2009 a 17-year-old killed 15 people in a shooting spree at the Albertville-Realschule Winnenden school. The boy had a collection of books on mass killing, including Rampage in My Mind -- Why Students Kill. The attack was perhaps timed since it marked the 5th year after Anders Behring Breivik’s racist shooting spree at a youth camp in Norway in 2011 that cost the lives of 77 young people. Bavarian state officials said that the 18-year-old had bought his reactivated 9mm Glock 17 pistol on the dark net, a part of the internet not accessible by ordinary search engines.
Another young refugee, a 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was shot and killed by police after he wounded five people in an axe attack on a train near Würzburg, South Germany last Monday, July 18. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the July 18 axe attack in Germany and for the July 14 attack in the French city of Nice on Bastille Day when a 31-year-old French Tunisian man in a lorry killed 84 people before he was killed by the police.
There are a series of issues arising in relation to these incidents: the accessibility of guns, stricter regulations on the weapons trade and the use of the internet to facilitate anonymity or crime. But, more importantly there is no clear motivation, religious or political to define these crimes. The Munich killer “boasted of his Germanness to his victims” (The Guardian, opinion) while the Würzburg attacker was inspired by Isis. Both the Nice truck driver and the Munich killer had psychiatric problems. Isis later claimed responsibility for the Nice attack. While these incidents bring into the fore fears about immigrants or radical Islamist terror, they are nothing more but symptoms of the growing fragmentation of societies, increasing inequalities and injustice, as well as global circulation. As random acts of violence, all of them resist interpretation, and their blood cannot be atoned with further violence.
Germany and Its Economy
While the violent acts are despicable, and their timing frightening, it has been argued that western Europe is a peaceful place in comparison to other parts of the world, with low homicide rates. This is also the reason why western European states are desirable destinations for many migrants; they are stable, wealthy and safe places. Germany has the largest economy in Europe with the best-rated debt. German bonds are considered the support for the programme that allows countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal to use the euro as stable currency. Germany was forced to guarantee bailouts for Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Cyprus in order to keep immigration under control. For example, failure to support Euro member states could endanger depression which would later trigger massive immigration into Germany that would affect labour markets and exacerbate social pressures.
The German “ZEW Economic Sentiment Indicator,” which tracks the economic projections of Germany’s top 350 economists and analysts for the next six months, collapsed from a booming +19.2 in mid-June, before the Brexit, to a deep recessionary expectation of ‐6.8 on July 20.
But, according to the Frankfurt-based Bundesbank’s report, Germany’s economy will continue to grow despite Brexit. Low unemployment and rising wages seem to outweigh the effects of Brexit.
Immigration costs, however, are estimated to reach over $86 billion in the next four years, and Merkel’s generous refugee policy might be used against her by such parties as Frauke Petry’s Alternative for Germany in the coming 2017 election. Petry had said in a German newspaper: “People must stop migrants from crossing illegally from Austria [into Germany]. If necessary, [they] should use firearms. I don’t want this, but the use of armed force is there as a last resort.”
While last year’s refugee wave has now dropped, the immigration costs, especially the social benefits granted to migrants after they acquire asylum, will increase from €4.2 billion in 2017 to €8.2 in 2020.
The government’s careful fiscal path in recent years demonstrates that it is capable of facing immigration expenses while maintaining a stable budget. The German finance ministry estimates that the country’s overall debt ratio will fall below 60% of gross domestic product in 2020. In 2015 the debt ratio was 71.2% of GDP.