Germany has had a bad week and many are outraged over the fact that the chancellor is on holiday. However, the judgment is actually an attack on Angela Merkel's refugee policy, writes DW's Fabian von der Mark.
The first Islamist suicide bomber attack befell Germany in the Bavarian town of Ansbach; a young jihadist with an axe attacked people on a train in Würzburg; a Muslim swinging a giant butcher knife through the town of Reutlingen murdered a woman; and to top it all off, a mentally ill young man went on a killing spree in Munich.
In the meantime, the chancellor is on vacation. That is what many Germans perceive in the summer of 2016. Angela Merkel is indeed vacationing in the idyllic Uckermark region near Berlin and has had her spokesman express her sympathies to the victims and families in Reutlingen and Ansbach. She did not face the cameras with a concerned look on her face. After the killing spree in Munich, Hollande and Obama expressed their sympathies before she did. Hasn't Merkel noticed what is going on her country?
Merkel is able to act out of her analytic character
Of course, she's noticed. Since the weekend, she has been trying to grasp the mood and has managed to act out of her analytic character. Her inner scientist needs facts and she is reluctant to associate the planned killing spree by a young man born in Munich and IS-inspired attacks by refugees. But now, she has also allowed herself to relate to the growing sense of insecurity among Germans; she has expressed her condolences and promised to investigate. And surprisingly, she has scheduled a press conference for Thursday.
According to the latest information, the Reutlingen murder was motivated by relationship problems, so the chancellor's condolences for such a crime are highly unusual. But Merkel knows what many are concerned about. Reutlingen, Ansbach and Würzburg were all refugee crimes. The government rightly underscores the fact that the major terrorist attacks in Europe were all carried out by homegrown extremists, but now three shockingly violent crimes were committed by people who have come from Afghanistan and Syria in the past two years and had been warmly received in Germany. The target of political attacks is the so-called "welcome culture," which Merkel stands for like no other.
The last thing Merkel needs is a debate on refugees
Of course, the chancellor could show her mourning more communicatively. Like the German interior minister, she could have demonstratively interrupted the much needed vacation after Brexit, the Turkey crisis, etc. Germany's criticism of the chancellor will not change anything. Actually, Merkel would probably enliven the refugee debate that she nonetheless cannot use right now. There are three things that Angela Merkel's critics want to hear at the moment: "My refugee policy has failed. Receiving over a million Muslims was an uncalculated risk. The events of last week are terrible evidence of this."
But no one will hear Angela Merkel say those lines – and certainly not at her Thursday press conference. First of all, she knows that neither the Munich killer, nor the Würzburg, Ansbach and Reutlingen attackers arrived in Germany in the controversial autumn of 2015. Secondly, it is actually what her opponents at home and the Islamic State fanatics wish for. And thirdly, Merkel knows that she has to convey what she has felt in the Uckermark region – serenity and clarity, not hysteria and chaos.
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