Following a spate of knife attacks committed by teenage Syrians, two well attended marches have taken place in Cottbus, protesting against the islamification of Germany and the problems caused by Mutti Merkel's open border policies. The anti-migrant protests naturally had a counter from the left, but in a slightly surprising turn of events, the left could barely rally a crowd a quarter of the size of their opponents.
Bearing placards stating Cottbus for all and suggesting that to be concerned about migrant crime is to have a toxic brain doesn't appear to have been a message that gained much support. Mohammed Scharr organized the pro-migrant rally.
"After the attack [a knife attack committed by a Syrian on a German] people have got it into their heads that we are criminals, that we carry knives all the time. That we fight. It's not true."
The rally featured many flags from Middle Eastern countries, as well as the ubiquitous -though slightly puzzling- gay pride rainbow flags. Around 600 pro-migrant protesters were met by a counter-march of well over 2000 citizens demanding Merkel Muss Weg- Merkel has to go. Naturally, these people are tarred by the media as being little more than ignorant racists.
"We want the asylum seekers to respect us."
The population of refugees in Cottbus has doubled in two years to 8500. With a population of 100,000, the city of Cottbus on the Polish-German border has experienced a seismic cultural change. Hence the clashes. Hence the protests.
Steffen Kubitzki of the AfD said
"It seems there are too many. It seems that the situation in Cottbus has been underestimated. The first thing to do is to close the borders, to stop taking in refugees for now, and to sort things out here."
While Kubitzki doesn't go into details on what exactly needs to be sorted out, one doesn't have to look far for answers. According to SWR Actuell, in the region of Baden-Wurttemberg 42,443 crimes (excluding crimes of false entry to the country) were committed by 25,379 refugee suspects. For context, in that region in 2016 there were 90,000 refugees in temporary housing in the city, about 1.5% of the regional population. If these crime rates are replicated similiarly in Cottbus it is easy to see why having 8.5% of the population being refugee in origin is of concern to the locals.
"I'm scared to go out alone now."
"We are much more concerned about the assaults on bodily harm, ie the use of force by asylum seekers,"
So said Baden-Wurttemberg State Criminal Office President Ralf Michelfelder. The number of homicidal offenses involving at least one refugee increased by 95.5 percent to 7,670 cases. About 60 percent of these offenses were done in accommodation, but also about 40 percent in public. Furthermore, asylum seekers are strikingly represented in drug-related offenses and simple thefts. In the meantime, there is almost no crime field in which refugees would not be identified as suspects, according to Michelfelder.
The marches in Cottbus come from ideologically opposed positions.
Mohammed Scharr no doubt means well with his desire to show that not all 15-year-old refugees will stab you in the face. Unfortunately, he is arguing the wrong position- it is not the case that people think that all refugees in Germany are criminals. Indeed, genuine refugees are statistically less likely to commit crimes as it would invalidate their claims. Still, with over a quarter of a million applications for asylum in Germany from people claiming to Syrian in 2016, the issue has always been one of volume and the irreconcilable differences between Islamic cultures and the secular West.
For millennia human societies have granted asylum to foreigners fleeing persecution. Humans are generally kind like that. Even so, the rights of asylum in antiquity never came with the presumption that the refugee would become a favored citizen, or that such numbers of refugees would be admitted. As we see from the paltry repatriation efforts from the Germans to expel people who have gained entry to the country under false pretenses, it is clear that the majority of the more than three million asylum seekers who entered the country in the past three years are there to stay forever. It is this demographic shattering population movement that the people of Cottbus march against.
Two Syrian refugees wrote a letter of apology following the recent crimes by their compatriots.
"We are very sorry that two of our compatriots in Cottbus have attacked people. We apologize and would like to make it clear that this behavior is not right with us either. We want to tell you that we are here to live in peace. There is war in our homeland and we want to lead a safe and peaceful life.
Dear Syrians, dear refugees, we are guests here, we must accept the rules and have respect. Germany has welcomed us while our neighboring countries have closed the doors. Here we get everything we need for a new life. Please do not forget that and behave yourself!"
Unfortunately, the well-meaning actions of a few migrants will not outweigh the impact of increased crime, ghettoization and the creeping suspicion among Germans that their country is lost forever. Even former pro-migrant NGO volunteers are leaving Germany for the relative safety of Poland.
Rebecca Sommer, who formed a charity to help refugees in 2012.
"I thought that [their] medieval vision would change over time- but after seeing these situations repeat themselves and observe what was going on around me, a volunteer, I had to recognize that in the case of Muslim refugees, they have grown up with totally different values, they have been brainwashed since childhood and are indoctrinated by Islam and have absolutely no intention of embracing our values. Worse still, they look at us, the infidels, with disdain and arrogance... We have a huge problem with the left and the Greens [for whom] there is no 'German culture'"
The mainstream media in Germany reported that Cottbus has problems thanks to the German people in Cottbus being far-right extremists. The following video report goes so far as to allege the march is xenophobic, that the spate of violence in Cottbus was in fact started by locals, and that news reporters were assaulted by protestors.
The countermarch was in fact a broad cross-section of German society, as seen from the following video. Few flags were flown beside the occasional Bundesflagge. I see no overt Nazis here, though apparently one man was arrested for repeatedly giving the Seig Heil salute.
From the speeches given to the march, one speaker said
"He who can see no difference between his own and a stranger is immunodeficient. He won’t resist any threat. On July 18th one of our protesters in Cottbus wrote on a banner “Do I lock my house because I hate the people outside? —No! I lock it because I love the people inside. They are important to me and I want to protect them. For that reason, doors have locks and countries have borders.” My dear friends, this is the bottom line: loving your own and defending them has nothing to do with xenophobia."
With both the media and the German government against them, the Cottbus protestors have a gargantuan task ahead of them to spread their message.
Hope can be taken that the protests in Cottbus were so mismatched- the pro-border security march was far larger than that of Team Taharrush Gamea. This suggests that the left is, if not in full retreat on the issue, at least having a difficult time misrepresenting the blatantly obvious. The media cannot maintain the pretense that the 8500 migrants in Cottbus are angels while insinuating that 2000 Germans are literal Nazis while thousands of people are taking to the streets in denial of these lies.
Something will have to give.
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