Global Independent Analytics

The appeal to 'shoot the migrants' is attracting unprecedented support

A German politician has called for police to be allowed to shoot at migrants. While her demand was widely condemned, the xenophobic party she leads is attracting unusual support

Tony Paterson for Independent reports: a political tumult has raised after the suggestion to shoot illegal refugees at the German borders. The suggestion was proposed by Frauke Petry, who is the leader of the increasingly xenophobic Alternative for Germany party. Paterson provides the quote: “Police must stop migrants crossing illegally from Austria,” Ms Petry told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper. “And, if necessary, use firearms. That is what the law says.” She added: “I don’t want this either, but the use of armed force is there as a last resort.”

Insofar Ms Petry has been the first political leader to provide such univocal response to Angela Merkel’s ‘open-door’ policy which has resulted in the unprecedented influx of refugees and other migrants. In 2015, more than 1.1 million of immigrants arrived at the country and the polls demonstrate that about 40% of discontent Germans would have voted for Ms Merkel to resign. The AfD holds a strong anti-migrant stance; this position has already helped the party win five seats in Germany’s state parliaments and is anticipated to get additional 15 percent of the vote in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt.

Ms Merkel, in her turn, refused to close the country’s borders and moreover insisted that the refugees would leave Germany and head to their homeland once the conflict there is over. Paterson continues: Germany’s mainstream parties swiftly condemned Ms Petry’s demand for what some compared to Cold War border police practices last used when the Berlin Wall still stood. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Social Democrat Vice-Chancellor, demanded that the AfD be put under permanent domestic intelligence surveillance. “There is massive doubt that the AfD stands by the free democratic principles of our republic,” he told Bild newspaper. Ms Petry was also condemned by the police union which claimed that the party leader is radical and inhuman.

The rebranding of the AfD party began after Ms Petry was elected as a leader in an internal putsch last July. Since then, the party has earned a reputation of xenophobic and an anti-migrant right-wing team which has capitalized on events such as New Year’s Eve sexual assaults on Cologne women. The main idea in the name of which the party fights under the slogan ‘Merkel must go’ is that the identity and culture of the German people are destroyed by an uncontrollable flow of the refugees. Considering the facts, it is safe to say that the AfD is now the third-strongest party after Merkel’s CDU and her Social Democrat associates.

The party’s stance dates back to 2014 when the leaders began to advocate for mildly anti-immigrant policies. Despite the fact that Ms Petry’s position leans way too far to the right with its radical and xenophobic rhetoric, AfD’s popularity among voters tends to increase steadily.

 Paterson concludes: “The AfD leader risks being eclipsed by colleagues such as Björn Höcke, the party’s outspoken leader in the eastern state of Thuringia, whose speeches have been compared to those of Hitler’s propagandist, Joseph Goebbels. Mr Höcke, who regularly draws crowds of up to 8,000 supporters, recently appeared on a popular chat show brandishing a German flag. “For decades its seemed as if the rise of a politician like Björn Höcke was impossible,” wrote Die Welt newspaper. “In the meantime, the impossible has become possible.”

Mr Höcke did not scruple to say that the whole nation is in danger because of the refugees, who, in his opinion, assault indiscriminately German women of all ages and are an overall catastrophe to ‘1,000 years of Germany’ and, therefore, should be stopped immediately. His speech was greeted cheerfully by the AfD supporters.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

Frauke Petr, the leader of AfD (Alternative for Germany), a growing popular party that will garner at least 12% of the vote in national elections according to polls, finally dared to address the burning migrant crisis which is on everyone’s mind. She said that according to the law, migrants can be shot at the border if needed, with the hope of deterring a major inflow. Of course, she was not advocating exterminating the migrants per say; German law, as many other countries, allows for the use of force to guard its borders; it is a fact that western countries shoot infiltrators when they are overwhelmed.

Migrants have already attacked the Macedonian, Greek and Hungarian police. Which other country would agree to take one million migrants in with millions more to come, despite various sexual and other attacks besides Germany? Petr merely repeated what German law says. But that was enough to garner a warning by SPD’s Sigmar Gabriel who in a Stassi-style fashion said AfD must be monitored for threatening democracy. Since when does mentioning German law on the right of a state to guard its borders an experiment in undermining democracy? On the contrary, silencing critics who dare question the madness of accepting millions of migrant males from a very different culture who do not wish to integrate is undemocratic. But in light of AfD’s growing popularity, we can expect more and more of their demonization by mainstream politicians who try to stem their growing shift in support.

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