(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR AND THE BBC)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR AND THE BBC)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION-PRESS RELEASE)
Rule of Law: European Commission acts to defend judicial independence in Poland
Brussels, 20 December 2017
Despite repeated efforts, for almost two years, to engage the Polish authorities in a constructive dialogue in the context of the Rule of Law Framework, the Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland.
The Commission is therefore proposing to the Council to adopt a decision under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union (see Annex II).
The European Commission is taking action to protect the rule of law in Europe. Judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country’s judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority. In the absence of judicial independence, serious questions are raised about the effective application of EU law, from the protection of investments to the mutual recognition of decisions in areas as diverse as child custody disputes or the execution of European Arrest Warrants.
The Commission has also today issued a complementary (4th) Rule of Law Recommendation, setting out clearly the steps that the Polish authorities can take to remedy the current situation. Should the Polish authorities implement the recommended actions, the Commission is ready, in close consultation with the European Parliament and the Council, to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.
Furthermore, the Commission has decided to take the next step in itsinfringement procedure against Poland for breaches of EU law by the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation, referring Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Whilst taking these unprecedented measures, the Commission maintains its offer for a constructive dialogue to remedy the current situation.
1. Reasoned Proposal for a Council Decision
Over a period of two years, the Polish authorities have adopted more than 13 laws affecting the entire structure of the justice system in Poland, impacting the Constitutional Tribunal, Supreme Court, ordinary courts, National Council for the Judiciary, prosecution service and National School of Judiciary. The common pattern is that the executive and legislative branches have been systematically enabled to politically interfere in the composition, powers, administration and functioning of the judicial branch.
The Reasoned Proposal sets out the Commission’s concerns, recalling the steps taken under the Rule of Law Framework and the numerous contacts with the Polish authorities to try to identify a solution, and invites the Council to find that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law. The concerns relate specifically to the lack of an independent and legitimate constitutional review and judicial independence.
Should the Polish authorities implement the remedial actions set out in the Rule of Law Recommendation accompanying its Reasoned Proposal, the Commission is ready to reconsider the Reasoned Proposal.
2. Rule of Law Recommendation
The Rule of Law Recommendation adopted today complements three previous Recommendations, adopted on 27 July 2016, 21 December 2016 and 27 July 2017. Today’s Recommendation focuses on the fresh concerns raised by the new law on the Supreme Court adopted by the Polish Parliament on 15 December 2017 and the law on the National Council for the Judiciary adopted on 15 December 2017. The Polish authorities have still not addressed the concerns identified in the first three Commission Recommendations, which remain valid.
Today’s Recommendation clearly sets out a set of actions that need to be taken by the Polish authorities to address its concerns. The Polish authorities are invited to:
3. Infringement procedure on the basis of EU law
The College of Commissioners also decided to refer the Polish Government to the European Court of Justice for breach of EU law, concerning the Law on the Ordinary Courts and, specifically, the retirement regime it introduces.
The Commission’s key legal concern identified in this law relates to the discrimination on the basis of gender due to the introduction of a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). This is contrary to Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment.
In its referral to the European Court of Justice, the Commission will also raise the linked concern that the independence of Polish courts will be undermined by the fact that the Minister of Justice has been given a discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges which have reached retirement age (see Article 19(1) TEU in combination with Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights).
The Commission’s Recommendation invites the Polish authorities to address the problems within three months, and to inform the Commission of the steps taken to that effect. The Commission stands ready to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government. Should the Polish authorities implement the recommended actions, the Commission is ready, in close consultation with the European Parliament and the Council, to reconsider its Reasoned Proposal.
Under Article 7(1) TEU, the Council must hear Poland’s position and obtain the consent of the European Parliament (on the basis of Article 354 TFEU, the European Parliament shall act by a two-thirds majority of votes cast, representing the majority of its component Members), before adopting a Decision by a four-fifths majority (22 of 27 Members of the Council entitled to vote on the basis of Article 354 TFEU), determining that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law. The Council may also address recommendations to Poland, acting in accordance with the same voting procedure.
Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union provides for the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, to determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the common values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty (see Annex II). The Commission can trigger this process by a reasoned proposal.
The rule of law is one of the common values upon which the European Union is founded. It is enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Commission, together with the European Parliament and the Council, is responsible under the Treaties for guaranteeing the respect of the rule of law as a fundamental value of our Union and making sure that EU law, values and principles are respected.
It is up to Poland to identify its own model for its justice system, but it should do so in a way that respects the rule of law; this requires it to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, separation of powers and legal certainty.
A breach of the rule of law in one Member State has an effect on all Member States and the Union as a whole. First, because the independence of the judiciary – free from undue political interference – is a value that reflects the concept of European democracy we have built up together, heeding the lessons of the past. Second, because when the rule of law in any Member State is put into question, the functioning of the Union as a whole, in particular with regard to Justice and Home Affairs cooperation and the functioning of the Internal Market, is put into question too.
The European Commission opened a dialogue with the Polish Authorities in January 2016 under the Rule of Law Framework (see Memo for more details). The Framework – introduced by the Commission on 11 March 2014 – has three stages (see graphic in Annex 1). The entire process is based on a continuous dialogue between the Commission and the Member State concerned. The Commission keeps the European Parliament and Council regularly and closely informed. The Commission has attempted to work constructively with the Polish authorities, as they have passed more than 13 laws impacting the Constitutional Tribunal, Supreme Court, ordinary courts, national Council for the Judiciary, prosecution service and National School of Judiciary.
The European Parliament has consistently supported the Commission’s concerns, including in the three Resolutions of 13 April 2016, 14 September 2016 and 15 November 2017. In addition, on 16 May 2017, the Commission informed the General Affairs Council of the situation in Poland. A very broad majority of Member States supported the Commission’s role and efforts to address this issue, and called upon the Polish Government to resume the dialogue with the Commission. The Commission provided a further update to the General Affairs Council on 25 September 2017, and there was broad agreement on the need for Poland to engage in a dialogue to find a solution.
A wide range of other actors at European and international levels have expressed their deep concern about the reform of the Polish justice system: representatives of the judiciary across Europe, including the Network of Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, the Venice Commission, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Human Rights Committee as well as numerous civil society organisations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights and Democracy Network.
For more information:
Annex I – Rule of Law Framework
Annex II – Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union
1. On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure.
The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.
2. The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.
3. Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.
The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.
4. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.
5. The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY IS OF CNN)
(CNN)Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo resigned late Thursday and will be replaced by the finance minister, according to a statement from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
Warsaw, Poland (CNN)Tens of thousands of nationalist protesters disrupted Poland’s independence day events Saturday, waving flags and burning flares as they marched down the streets of Warsaw.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ALJAZEERA NEWS NETWORK)
Tehran – Taji, a companion parrot, moved about freely in an apartment in central Tehran, occasionally emitting a scream.
“I don’t like to put him in a cage,” Helena Stelmach, 86, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t like imprisonment.”
|In 1942, about 120,000 refugees from Poland began their exodus to Iran from remote parts of the Soviet Union [AP]|
Nearly eight decades ago, Stelmach learned her own lessons about imprisonment, exile and the process of seeking refuge. In September 1939, German soldiers invaded Poland from the west and Soviet soldiers occupied the country’s east.
The Soviet Union’s Red Army deported more than one million Poles to Siberia, and Stelmach’s family was among those targeted. Soviet soldiers arrested and imprisoned her father in Poland, while eight-year-old Helena and her mother were forced to leave their home.
“It was midnight when they came for us,” Stelmach said. “First, they sent us to a church, and then to Siberia. All we took with us was a suitcase with an old rug, some pieces of jewellery and family photos.”
In her diary, self-published in Farsi in 2009 under the title From Warsaw to Tehran, she recalled how Polish refugees died every day in Siberia from the freezing weather, maltreatment and disease. Because of malnutrition, their teeth sometimes fell out of their mouths while they were talking.
The nightmare lasted for two years, until Germany attacked the Soviet Union, prompting Joseph Stalin to change his stance towards the Poles. In 1942, he freed them to move south to Iran, and then to Lebanon and Palestine.
“It’s not something that people and politicians like talking about or even mentioning,” said Narges Kharaghani, an Iranian director who recently completed a documentary on Polish refugees in Iran during World War II. “I think there has been an untold consensus to forget this topic. After the end of the Second World War, the victorious countries only wanted to talk about Hitler’s crimes. Nowadays, considering how the West is treating immigrants, it doesn’t make any sense for them to talk about that exodus.”
In 1942, about 120,000 refugees from Poland began their exodus to Iran from remote parts of the Soviet Union.
“When they arrived in Iran, the country was gravely affected by political instability and famine,” said Reza Nikpour, an Iranian-Polish historian and member of the Iran-Poland Friendship Association. “Moreover, the Soviets and the Brits confiscated and sent all of the resources from Iran to the frontline in Europe. All of this happened despite the fact that Iran had declared its neutrality when the war started.”
The Poles entered Iran from the port city of Anzali on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. Soviet ships docking in Anzali were packed with starving Polish refugees, and they were the lucky ones: Many others died along the way from typhus, typhoid and hunger. Their bodies were unceremoniously discarded into the sea.
|Stelmach, pictured here with her father in Poland, has lived in Iran ever since the exodus [Changiz M Varzi/Al Jazeera]|
Stelmach was fortunate enough to avoid disease and hunger. Her mother was a nurse, and in return for taking care of the ship captain’s sick son during their journey across the Caspian Sea, the young Stelmach received food and care. After two days at sea, they arrived in a new country that was in dire need of food and suffering from bread riots in its capital.
Several sources have documented that when Polish refugees were loaded on to trucks to relocate from Anzali to Tehran, Iranians threw objects at them. The frightened refugees at first thought they were being stoned, but soon noticed that the objects were not rocks, but rather cookies and candies.
“The Polish refugees were nourished more by the smiles and generosity of the Iranian people than by the food dished out by British and Indian soldiers,” noted an article by Ryszard Antolak, a specialist in Iranian and Eastern European history whose mother was among the refugees who ended up in Iran.
In Tehran, the refugees were accommodated in four camps; even one of the private gardens of Iran’s shah was transformed into a temporary refugee camp, and a special hospital was dedicated to them.
“Polish refugees were well-received in Iran, and they integrated into the host society and worked as translators, nurses, secretaries, cooks and tailors,” Nikpour told Al Jazeera. “Some of them also married Iranians and stayed in Iran permanently.”
The Polish refugees launched a radio station and published newspapers in their mother tongue. They entered into Iran’s art scene and, as with other waves of immigration, their food appeared on the menus of their host communities. The pierogi, a Polish dumpling, is still very common in Iran.
It was food that first brought together Stelmach and her husband, Mohammad Ali. Stelmach’s mother rented a shop in central Tehran selling Polish dishes; Ali worked in a neighbouring shop while simultaneously taking an English language course.
“Helen knew English and German,” Ali recalled with a smile. “I asked her to help me with the English language, and here we are, half a century later, and we are still together.”
Many changes have taken place since Stelmach and her mother came to Iran: World War II ended, an Islamic revolution took place in Iran, the Iron Curtain fell, Poland became part of the European Union – yet, throughout all of these years, Stelmach and her mother opted to remain in Iran.
They have visited their former homeland several times, and even received the Order of the White Eagle, one of Poland’s highest honours.
In 1983, Stelmach’s mother died, and she was buried in the same cemetery as the casualties of the Polish exodus in 1942. Today, a long, high wall separates the cemetery from a sea of matchbox-shaped apartments in one of Tehran’s oldest neighbourhoods.
“There are some visitors still coming to the [cemetery],” caretaker Hamid Tajrishi told Al Jazeera. “A few days ago, a group of old Polish tourists came … Also, sometimes foreigners come individually, seeking the names of their grandparents in our archive, and then they place a bouquet of flowers on their graves and leave.”
Source: Al Jazeera
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)
Published April 08, 2017
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A pre-World War II apartment house collapsed Saturday in southwestern Poland, leaving six people dead and four injured, authorities said.
Scores of firefighters with dogs continued to search the rubble of the building in the town of Swiebodzice, to make sure no one remained trapped.
According to Daniel Mucha, regional spokesman for the firefighters, the two upper floors of the three-floor building might have collapsed due to a gas explosion. A team of construction experts were set to investigate the cause.
The rescue management center said the body of a sixth victim was found late Saturday. Two of the dead were school-age children.
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo arrived late Saturday at the site, 250 miles southwest of Warsaw, to talk with the victims and the rescue workers.
The injured were taken to hospitals in Swiebodzice and in Wroclaw. One survivor, identified only by her first name Stanislawa, told TVN24 that she was “miraculously saved.”
“I was in the kitchen and suddenly it was dark and full of debris and some broken wooden planks,” she said from her hospital bed in Swiebodzice. “I got on top of those planks and started calling ‘Help! Help!’ Two firefighters came and pulled me out by the arm.”
She said her husband was resting on the bed at the time of the collapse. “I don’t know what has happened to him,” she said, her voice trembling.
With her teenage son, also a survivor, at her side, she said the family had lost everything.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)
“All the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the U.S. is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region,” Janicki said.
The decision in Poland comes four years after the AP published a story establishing that Michael Karkoc commanded the unit, based on wartime documents, testimony from other members of the unit and Karkoc’s own Ukrainian-language memoir.
Karkoc’s family has repeatedly denied he was involved in any war crimes and his son questioned the validity of the evidence against him after Poland’s announcement, calling the accusations “scandalous and baseless slanders.”
“There’s nothing in the historical record that indicates my father had any role whatsoever in any type of war crime activity,” said Andriy Karkoc.
He questioned the Polish investigation, saying “my father’s identity has never been in question nor has it ever been hidden.”
Prosecutors with the state National Remembrance Institute, which investigates Nazi and Communist-era crimes against Poles, have asked a regional court in Lublin to issue an arrest warrant for Karkoc. If granted, Poland would seek his extradition, as Poland does not allow trial in absentia, Janicki said.
“The prosecutor in Lublin intends to direct a motion to the U.S. justice authorities asking that the suspect … be handed over to Poland,” the institute said in a statement.
Janicki added the man’s age was no obstacle in seeking to bring him before justice.
“He is our suspect as of today,” Janicki said.
If convicted of contributing to the killing of civilians in 1944, Karkoc could face life in prison.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota declined to comment on the case.
Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, applauded the decision as an important signal even at this late stage.
“Any legal step that’s taken against these people is very important,” he said by telephone from Jerusalem. “It sends a very powerful message, and these kinds of things should not be abandoned just because of the age of a suspect.”
Prosecutors in Germany shelved their own investigation of Karkoc in 2015 after saying they had received “comprehensive medical documentation” from doctors at the geriatric hospital in the U.S. where he was being treated that led them to conclude he was not fit for trial.
Karkoc’s family says he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Zuroff urged that he be reassessed by independent doctors.
“It is a very common occurrence that elderly individuals facing prosecution for World War II crimes make every effort to look as sick and as infirm as possible,” he said.
The investigations in Germany and Poland began after AP’s story in June 2013, which established Karkoc was a commander of the unit and then lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States a few years after the war.
A second report uncovered evidence that Karkoc himself ordered his men in 1944 to attack a Polish village in which dozens of civilians were killed, contradicting statements from his family that he was never at the scene.
“The Associated Press stands by its stories, which were well-documented and thoroughly reported,” said Lauren Easton, director of AP’s media relations, on Monday.
The special German prosecutor’s office that investigates Nazi crimes concluded that enough evidence existed to pursue murder charges against Karkoc.
AP’s initial investigation found that Karkoc entered the U.S. in 1949 by failing to disclose to American authorities his role as a commander in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. The investigation found that Karkoc was in the area of the massacres, but did not uncover evidence linking him directly to atrocities.
The second story, based upon an investigative file originally from the Ukrainian intelligence agency’s archive, revealed that a private under Karkoc’s command testified in 1968 that Karkoc ordered an assault on the village of Chlaniow in retaliation for the slaying of the SS major who led the Legion, in which Karkoc was a company commander.
A German roster of the unit confirmed that Pvt. Ivan Sharko, a Ukrainian, served under Karkoc’s command at the time.
Other eyewitness accounts, both from villagers and members of Karkoc’s unit, corroborated the testimony that the company set buildings on fire and gunned down more than 40 men, women and children.
Other soldiers who served under Karkoc backed up Sharko’s testimony about civilian killings.
Pvt. Vasyl Malazhenski, for example, told Soviet investigators that in 1944 that unit was directed to “liquidate all the residents” of Chlaniow — although he did not say who gave the order.
Sharko also testified in the investigative documents that Karkoc’s company was directly involved in a “punitive mission” against Poles near the village of Sagryn in 1944.
Rising reported from Berlin. Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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German authorities issued a 100,000 euro ($105,000) reward for information leading to his capture, warning citizens not to approach the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Amri, who they described as “violent and armed.”
His past record, however, further deepened the political fallout from the bloodshed — pointing to flaws in the deportation system and putting a harsh light on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s humanitarian bid to open the nation’s doors to nearly 1 million asylum seekers last year.
Although the vast majority of those who flooded into Europe were on the move to escape war and unrest, dozens of terror suspects have slipped into Germany and other nations posing as migrants.
The dragnet for the suspect appeared to initially focus on the German state of North Rhine Westphalia as well as Berlin, both places where the Tunisian suspect once lived, and where police units moved in for possible raids.
The interior minister in North Rhine Westphalia, Ralf Jäger, said the Tunisian man had bounced around Germany since arriving in July 2015, living in the southern city of Freiburg, and later in Berlin.
He applied for asylum, but was rejected in June of this year and became the subject of deportation proceedings on suspicion of “preparing a serious act of violent subversion.” Jäger said the Tunisian had not been deported because — like many asylum seekers in Germany — he did not have a passport.
The Tunisian government, Jäger explained, initially denied he was their national, and delayed issuing his passport. The passport, he said, finally arrived Wednesday.
“I don’t want to comment further on that circumstance,” said a visibly angered Jäger.
Officials suggested that the leaking of the suspect’s name and photograph in the press may have upset attempts to find him. Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, would only tell reporters in Berlin that Germany had registered “a suspect” as wanted European databases. He refused to give further details.
The two German law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive case, said investigators discovered the man’s documents in the cabin of the truck that barreled into the market, killing 12 people, wounding dozens and reigniting debates about security and immigration.
It remained unclear whether authorities believe the Tunisian man drove the truck, but police nevertheless made tracking him a priority.
The asylum seeker had at first received a “toleration” status from the government, meaning he was not granted full asylum but permitted to remain in Germany legally.
Germany’s Bild newspaper ran a photo of the suspect, who had several aliases and was apparently born in the southern Tunisian desert town of Tataouine in 1992.
Witnesses described one man fleeing the scene after the truck — packed with a cargo of steel — roared into revelers at a traditional Christmas market. One suspect, a Pakistani asylum-seeker, was arrested on Monday night, but authorities later released him due to lack of evidence.
According to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Tunisian suspect arrived in Italy in 2012, but moved to Germany in July 2015. In April 2016, he applied for asylum, but disappeared earlier this month. The paper said he had been using eight different names.
The revelation sparked outrage among conservative politicians, and seemed set to damage Merkel, who is running for reelection next year.
“There is a connection between the refugee crisis and the heightened terror threat in Germany,” said Stefan Mayer, parliamentary spokesperson for the Christian Social Union party on domestic affairs told reporters. “This can also be seen in the case of this Tunisian.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung, along with other German media outlets, added that the man had contacts with a network run by a radical Islamist known as Abu Walaa, who was arrested last month for allegedly recruiting Islamic State fighters.
The new information emerged as German investigators raced for clues in the hunt for suspects in the deadly assault, poring over forensic evidence and GPS data as they sought to retrace the steps of the runway attacker. They were re-questioning witnesses and analyzing DNA traces found in the truck, and well as on the body of a dead Polish man in the passenger seat.
The Pole worked for a trucking company and was delivering a payload of steel to Berlin. Investigators are currently going on the assumption that he was taken hostage by the assailant — and may even have died a hero. Jörg Radek deputy chairman of the German Trade Union of the Police, said evidence suggested that “a fight took place in the driver’s cabin.” As it careened toward the crowded market, the truck was not driving straight, but “in a zigzag line,” he noted.
Bild also quoted an investigator as saying the Polish man — who was shot dead — also had received multiple stab wounds in a manner that suggested he may have tried to grab the steering wheel to stop the assault as it happened.
The Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for inspiring the unknown attacker — a claim as yet unproven and possibly just opportunistic — leading some politicians to quickly point the finger at Merkel’s humanitarian move last year to open Germany’s door to asylum seekers from the war-torn Middle East.
Yet others quickly pushed back, calling the accusations a politicizing of tragedy that had no place in progressive Germany.
On Tuesday, Horst Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union, sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats said: “We owe it to the victims, those affected and the entire population to rethink and readjust our entire immigration and security policy.”
On Wednesday, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann defended Seehofer from a barrage of critics claiming he and others were seizing on the attack to further their anti-migrant stance.
“This is no sweeping judgment of refugees,” he said. “Compared to the high number of refugees, these are only very few, but the risks are obvious and we must not close our eyes.”
A number of newspaper editorials and other politicians criticized Herrman’s remarks and similar statements as premature and lacking in respect for the victims.
Commentator Jürgen Kaube in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said such comments risked over-generalizing Muslim migrants and were implicitly turning the hateful views of the Islamic State into “the true representative of the Muslim world.”
“It is appalling if there are now calls to reconsider the refugee policy as a whole,” the paper Die Tageszeitung wrote in an editorial. “Why for heaven’s sake? . . . What happened in Berlin was long feared. An act of brutal violence. The only effective defense: to keep calm.”
There were also growing calls for the deployment of more police on the streets with military-style weapons — a frequent sight in France and Belgium, for instance, but far more unusual in pacifist Germany.
Klaus Bouillon, head of a conference of interior ministers from German states, declared on Tuesday that the country was now “in a state of war.” He called for beefed up security at public events.
At the normally quaint and picturesque Christmas markets in at least three German cities — Mainz, Magdeburg and Dresden — concrete barriers were quickly erected for added security. In Magdeburg, police officers armed with automatic weapons were guarding the entrance.
Yet others argued that living a free society was perhaps more important, and that Germans were willing to accept a certain measure of risk to preserve that openness.
“If we want to maintain the freedom of our society, we simply have to live with the risk contained in this decision,” Die Tageszeitung added in its editorial.
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