Security Debate Erupts in Germany | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.07.2005
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Security Debate Erupts in Germany

A debate has erupted in Germany about the political consequences of the London bombings. Opposition leaders have called for stricter anti-terrorism measures, while the ruling coalition says it's doing enough.

German police raided a mosque in Bochum last year

German police raided a mosque in Bochum last year

Two months before Germany's likely early elections, the conservative opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) have called for tighter security laws.

"We have to close the security gaps and can't wait until the next legislative period," CDU interior affairs expert Wolfgang Bosbach told Dortmund daily Ruhr Nachrichten.

Bosbach recalled that a trail from the last such attacks in Europe, in Madrid in March 2004, had led to Germany. It was now crucial to close possible security gaps in Germany and "consider which acute security measures have to be added."

Nach Terroranschag in London Straßensperre in Berlin

Security at the British embassy in Berlin has been tightened.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Günther Beckstein from the CDU sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) said that there was no indication of any pending attacks. "But an abstract increase in danger is self-evident," Beckstein told German television ZDF.

German Interior Minister Otto Schily reiterated that the country remains under threat by extremists. "Unfortunately, we have to reckon that these groups also have their sights on us," Schily told ZDF.

German police want more leeway

The German police labor union GdP said measures to battle terrorism in Germany had to be increased. GdP head Konrad Freiberg called for a new anti-terror package, which would include a leniency program, a central anti-terror databank and long-term storage of telephone connections.

"The terror attacks in London are renewed evidence that European capitals continue to be extremely in danger from international terrorism," said Freiberg in a statement. "Anyone who questions the security measures and the concept of the police for combating terrorism is endangering the people of our country."

Auf der Spur der Hamburger Terrorzelle: Marienstraße 54 mit Thumbnail

Terrorist Mohammed Atta, who flew one of the planes into the World Trade Center, lived in this street in Hamburg

According to GdP, there are currently preliminary proceedings in 160 cases against alleged terrorists in Germany. Attacks that had been planned in Germany could be prevented through the good cooperation with security authorities.

"They pointed to Islamic terrorists, who do not shy away from killing as many people as possible to spread the maximum possible fear," said Freiberg.

No cause for panic, but for caution

The Green's parliamentary leader Volker Beck said the existing security laws were adequate. He said there should be clarification on the London attacks before further measures are discussed for Germany.

"Whoever wants to say already today what should follow from London simply wants to capitalize politically on these horrible attacks," Beck told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

The deputy head of the Social Democrats parliamentary group, Hans-Joachim Hacker, said the ruling center-left government had reacted adequately to the changing threats in the world through two anti-terrorism legislation and several supplementary laws.

"It has done everything imaginable to prevent such attacks," said Hacker in a statement. "There is no cause for panic, but for caution. Open societies are always exposed to terrorist danger."

Bundesinnenminister Otto Schily

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily says Germany belongs to the safest countries in the world

Schily has announced a third security package. But the likely early elections have put these plans on the back burner. On a European level, the European Union also introduced stricter security measures since September 11. But Schily said the expectations on the bloc shouldn't be too high.

"We know that terrorists like these select soft targets for their murderous activities," said Schily. "We can't protect all soft targets in Europe, not all trains, office buildings or discotheques. It is absolutely impossible."

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