Freiburg murder: Gabriel urges politicians to avoid anti-refugee incitement | News | DW | 05.12.2016
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Freiburg murder: Gabriel urges politicians to avoid anti-refugee incitement

Germany's government is urging against making political capital from the rape and murder of a student in the university city of Freiburg. Police have detained a teenager from Afghanistan as a suspect.

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German leaders warn against scapegoating migrants

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel asked citizens and politicians to avoid "rabble-rousing and conspiracy propaganda" after the arrest of a teenager from Afghanistan in connection with the rape and murder of a university student. The country's main nationalist party has nevertheless argued that the government bears "a decisive share of the responsibility."

"We will not allow incitement after such violent crimes, no matter who commits them," Gabriel told the mass-circulation broadsheet "Bild" for an article published on Monday.

Police found the student's body on a riverbank on October 16, the day after she went missing on her way home from a party in the southwestern city of Freiburg. An autopsy showed she had been a victim of sexual crime and violence before she drowned.

On Friday officers detained the 17-year-old suspect, who sought asylum in Germany as an unaccompanied minor last year. A test determined that his DNA matched evidence found near the site where the 19-year-old died, police said.

Officials have also linked the teenager to the crime scene using video footage from nearby CCTV. He has yet to make a statement. Police are questioning people who were at the party in connection with the murder.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the teenager "must be punished with the full force of our laws" if found guilty. "But we must not forget that we are talking then about a possible crime by one Afghan refugee - not a whole group of people," he added.

No 'new phenomenon'

Jörg Meuthen, the co-leader of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germanyparty, said the government bore "a decisive share of the responsibility for this cruel act and many other 'isolated cases' that have happened daily in Germany since the unhindered entry of illegal immigrants." Rainer Wendt, the head of the Deutschen Polizeigewerkschaft, a union group that lobbies for police autonomy, said the killing could have been prevented "if our country had been better prepared for the dangers that always go along with massive immigration."

Julia Klöckner, a member of the ruling Christian Democrats who has been billed as a possible successor as party leader after Chancellor Angela Merkel, responded to the statements about the woman's murder: "Such atrocities are committed by natives and foreigners - this isn't a new phenomenon."

Media coverage debate 

Some Germans say media have covered up incidents involving people of apparent foreign extraction. They claim, for just one example, that outlets did not report the confusing details of a mass series of purse snatchings and sexual assaults blamed on men of "foreign" appearance last New Year's Eve in Cologne.

Public broadcaster ARD has come under fire on social media for not including a report in its Saturday night news broadcast on the case. ARD Chief Editor Kai Gniffke defended the decision, writing in a blog post that ARD seldom reported on individual crime cases and chose instead to focus on "events of social, national and international relevance."

Despite efforts in some sectors to link crime to people from abroad or their descendants, recent studies have found that Germany has generally become safer,  save for an uptick in crimes by racist and xenophobic factions.

mkg/se (epd, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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