Category : Germany

(Der Spiegel) Targeting Terrorists: Germany’s Dilemma in Dealing with Islamist Threats

…. [This] case is a good example of just how difficult it can be for the German government to deal with people it considers a threat but who cannot be convicted of a crime due to insufficient evidence. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has identified 602 individuals who are so-called “Islamist threats.” Some 300 of them live abroad — in Syria or in Iraq, often as fighters for terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS) — while around 100 are currently in jail in Germany. Of the 200 remaining suspected enemies of the state, most have not yet committed any prosecutable crimes, but authorities nevertheless believe them to be capable of “politically motivated crimes of considerable significance.” That’s how the BKA and the 16 state criminal offices have defined these individual threats since 2004. Put more simply, they believe these 200 identified individuals are capable of committing terrorist acts at any time.

“Threat” is a vague working term. And the individuals who have been identified as such often aren’t even aware of it. The decision to classify a person as a threat is made by the state offices of criminal investigation, and the person’s name is then added to a national list kept by the BKA. According to the definition, threats are identified “on the basis of certain established facts” which fall short of being actual crimes. Unable to prosecute them, the most the state can do is keep these individuals under close surveillance to the greatest degree possible.

But they often aren’t successful, as seen in the case of Anis Amri, the perpetrator behind the December attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Officials had also classified him as a threat, but authorities were unable to prove he had committed any terrorist acts and they also couldn’t deport him to Tunisia. He was a free man who used his freedom to shoot a semi-truck driver, steal the vehicle and murder 11 more people.

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(FT) Gideon Rachman-The isolation of Angela Merkel’s Germany

Angela Merkel has described the idea that she is now the de facto leader of the western world as “grotesque” and “absurd”. The German chancellor’s angst is understandable. Modern Germany has no desire to lead the west and is not powerful enough to bear that burden. But unrealistic expectations are not the only reason for German anxiety. If Ms Merkel looks out from the glass box of the chancellor’s office in Berlin there is trouble on every horizon. To the east are the ever more authoritarian and Germanophobic governments of Poland and Hungary. And further east a hostile Russia. To the west, is the US of Donald Trump; to the north the UK of Brexit. And to the south lie Italy and Greece, two troubled countries that increasingly blame Germany for their economic woes. Collectively, the situation threatens to revive an old German nightmare: the fear of being a large, isolated power at the centre of Europe. The situation must feel even more grotesque because — unlike in the 20th century — Germany’s current loneliness has very little to do with the country’s own malign behaviour. On the contrary, it is the world around Germany that is changing fast, as populism and nationalism surge across Europe and in the US.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Germany, Politics in General

(Reuters) Bavaria pushes ahead with burqa ban as elections loom

Bavaria will ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations, the southern German state said on Tuesday.

The move comes seven months before a federal election where immigration will be a prominent issue and the Bavarian conservatives that govern the region, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s, are worried about losing votes to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

“Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after the regional government agreed a draft law to ban the full-face veil for civil servants and in public places where there are concerns for public safety.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Dementia patients in Austria and Germany are still fighting the war 75 years on

Pensioners in Germany and Austria are suffering from delayed trauma caused by their experiences in the Second World War, resulting in assaults and threatening behaviour towards care home staff.

The problem is getting worse because the generation of children born after 1929, who were too young to fight in the war but old enough to witness its horrors, are now entering homes and hospices where suppressed memories are resurfacing, home managers and psychologists said.

Last month, an 83-year-old man pulled a pistol on two nurses in a care home in Altheim, Austria, after they found him in a corridor in his wheelchair during the night. They fled and called the police, who overpowered him. Last August, in the western German city of Münster, an 83-year-old man in a care home killed a 74-year-old man with whom he shared a room.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Austria, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, History, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Violence

Archbp Justin Welby–Reflections from Auschwitz

Here are three things that will stay with me:

First is the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims ”“ in a way that actually cost the humanity of both. It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live ”“ and were then killed themselves. Others gave their lives, like St Maximilian Kolbe and St Edith Stein.

Second, these atrocities were committed by ordinary people. When one of the priests leading our retreat was asked who was to blame, he said: “People did it to people.”

Third, it was idolatrous and demonic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, Germany, History, Parish Ministry, Poland, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology

(NPR) A Church, An Oratorio And An Enduring Tradition

A Berliner and longtime member of St. Mary’s church choir, Christian Beier attempts to explain the mystique and tradition behind this piece of music….

“It makes Christmas Christmas,” he adds with a chuckle.

But as gorgeous as the music is for Beier, the core of this yearly event is something deeper.

“It is getting into some dialogue with God. It is being moved by whatever is around us,” he says.

Read or listen to it all (audio for this highly encouraged).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Europe, Germany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Der Spiegel) Terror in Berlin: How the Attack Has Changed the Country

[Sebastian] Kahl wanted to go to the service at the Memorial Church, not just because of what he and his girlfriend went through, but also out of respect for the fates suffered by others. A gesture of compassion. But then he hears the news that the police have arrested the wrong man. His girlfriend is afraid that the terrorist is still running around in the city and that he could kill again and the couple remains at home. They both want to spend Christmas with their families and Kahl feels he has much to be grateful for. He sees his survival akin to “being born again.”

5:20 p.m., Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

It is 40 minutes before the services are set to begin, but so many people have come that police have already had to close the church to non-invited guests. The benches inside are full. The closer the hour comes, the more anxious the mood in front of the church becomes. An interpreter tells the heavily armed police that she has to go inside because otherwise the journalists who have traveled from France won’t know what is being said from the altar. Some visitors are so brazen that they try to sneak between the Christmas market stalls toward the church entrance. But they don’t get far and the police officers react angrily.

A group from the Muslim community Ahmadiyya shows up wearing T-shirts reading: “Love for all, hate for none.” When Aiman Mazyek, of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, is allowed to pass with a small entourage, two women standing in front of the church snap: “Of course the Muslims are allowed in.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Advent, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

BBC-Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri killed in Milan

The Berlin market attack suspect Anis Amri has been shot dead by police in Milan, Italy’s interior minister says.

The man, who opened fire on police who asked him for ID during a routine patrol in the Sesto San Giovanni area in the early hours of Friday morning, was “without a shadow of a doubt” Anis Amri, Marco Minetti said.

One police officer was injured in the shootout.

Germany has been on high alert since the attack, which left 49 injured.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Germany, Italy, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Violence

The Bishop of London writes a letter of support to the Bishop of Berlin

A message of support to the Bishop of Berlin
Dear Brother in Christ,

I was praying for you and the people of Berlin earlier this morning. As the Bishop of a City which has also experienced terrorism, my heart goes out to the bereaved and injured. This attack on hospitable Germany is felt deeply here.

The dead and injured will be remembered in your Cathedral of St Paul’s in these last days of Advent.

With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.

+ Richard

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA
Bishop of London (Found there).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Europe, Germany, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(LA Times) Death toll rises to 12 in possible terrorist attack on Berlin Christmas market

Twelve people were killed and more than 45 others injured Monday evening when a 40-ton truck from Poland crashed into a popular outdoor Christmas market in the heart of Berlin and smashed its way about 80 yards through the crowd.

Police said they were still investigating whether it was an intentional attack on the holiday market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, one of dozens of cherished holiday markets across the city where hundreds of people gather for drinks, snacks and a chance to shop for handmade gifts.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. condemned the “horrific incident,” which he said “appears to have been a terrorist attack.”

The incident came on the same day that Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot to death in Ankara, and three people were shot and wounded near a Muslim prayer center in the Swiss city of Zurich.

Read it all and the Telegraph has live updates there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Philip Burcham–War Against the Weak: Genetic Counselling and the New Eugenics

While we have thus far highlighted their impact on isolated families like mine, on my darkest days I cannot help wondering if Neoeugenicist attitudes are re-booting the whole ethos of Western medicine and an entire civilisation. Whichever way the cake is cut, the principle that one group of people can legally coerce another to destroy their offspring simply because their skeletons contain low levels of collagen or their eyeballs are a funny colour seems ineradicably totalitarian. Once established this tyranny can never remain quarantined within healthcare institutions – like a virulent pathogen such contempt for human dignity will surely propagate beyond hospital walls and inflict damage upon our society as a whole.

Some hints concerning the social consequences that accompanied medical totalitarianism in an earlier age emerge from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the former University of Berlin academic who opposed the dehumanisation of the Jews in eugenics-obsessed Nazi Germany. He explores the influence of the anti-democratic impulse within healthcare in his famous unfinished work, Ethics.

As he sensed his execution approaching, Bonhoeffer grasped that a commitment to the intrinsic value of every human life is basic to a humane civil order. In such a society, the strong vigilantly resist the temptation to lord themselves over the weak.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Atlantic) A look at some of the Iranian refugees filling German church pews

Throughout Germany, the pews of churches like theirs are filled increasingly by asylum-seekers. Though two umbrella church organizations told me that they couldn’t provide exact statistics or comment on the nationality of the asylum-seekers attending church, Christoph Heil, a spokesman for the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia””which includes 1,300 parishes””confirmed the pattern. “Normally we don’t count the number of asylum-seekers who are baptized because we don’t differentiate between who is an asylum-seeker and who isn’t, but [asylum-seekers asking to be baptized] appears to be a new trend,” he said.

Muslim converts to Christianity that I spoke to in Germany cited the redemptive power of Jesus’s story, and disillusionment with Islam. It’s also worth noting the more earthly forces potentially at work: Germany does not grant refugee status to Iranians as easily as it does Syrians and Iraqis. Around 27,000 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, with Germany hosting the overwhelming majority; according to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 60 percent of Iranian requests for asylum received positive answers that year. Iranians seeking refugee status must prove that if they are sent home, they stand the risk of being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, that often means Christian converts.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Europe, Germany, Iran, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Germans Reconsider Tough Privacy Laws After Terrorist Attacks

When a bomb threat targeted the Thier Galerie shopping mall in Dortmund in July, police rushed to the scene and asked to scour closed-circuit camera recordings.

There wasn’t much footage to go through. An attempt by the mall operator to ramp up video surveillance last fall had been vetoed by local authorities who feared an assault on patrons’ privacy.

“You can’t just say you want to have more cameras,” said Heike Marzen, the mall’s manager. “There are certain laws we have to follow.”

Branded by its dictatorial past, when surveillance was both dreaded and commonplace, Germany has some of the world’s toughest privacy laws. But after two attacks claimed by Islamic State and a mass shooting this summer, the government is pushing to recalibrate the balance between security and anonymity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(Guardian) Germany split on EU's future as some call for a European government

The ideological split within German politics is essentially about whether the European commission should become more political after Brexit, or less so. Almut Möller of the European Council on Foreign Relations thinktank said: “All parties can see that the situation requires political answers, but that the European commission isn’t up to it ”“ that’s the dilemma.”

Henrik Enderlein, the director of the Jacques Delors Insitut in Berlin, said: “There are two possible roles the European commission could take in the future: either as a strong, political body that can take [the] initiative in key policy areas and during a crisis, or as a technocratic body that merely protects the treaties. At the moment, it is a hybrid of the two, and that has to change.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Germany, History, Politics in General, Theology

(Bloomberg) Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor Who Wrote for the Dead, Dies, 87

“I wrote feverishly, breathlessly, without rereading. I wrote to testify, to stop the dead from dying, to justify my own survival,” he recalled in a 1995 memoir.
The resulting manuscript was published in 1955 in Argentina, to little notice, as “Un di Velt Hot Geshvign,” or “And the World Remained Silent.” The following year, at the urging of French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel translated the work into French, and it was published in 1958 as “La Nuit,” or “Night.” An English version was published in the U.S. in 1960.
It had limited early success. The first run of 3,000 copies took three years to sell. Wiesel gained a larger following in the 1970s, as American colleges began delving into Holocaust studies. In 1976, the National Jewish Conference Center in New York convened a meeting on “The Work of Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust Universe.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Poland, Religion & Culture, Theology