By Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/1/2008
First it was France, and now Germany.
German authorities are reporting that, within their cities, areas now exist where police fear to tread. In many German urban areas drug dealing, theft, brawls, and assaults on police officers are the order of the day. The problem is becoming so severe police scarcely dare enter some quarters except in strength, while in others they concentrate on their own safety first.
But this is old news to French law enforcement officials. The 2005 riots woke France up to the fact that an anti-civilization had arisen in the “banlieues” (housing projects), which surround major French cities. Populated mainly by immigrants from North and West Africa, many with a Muslim background, they are known as places of anger and aggression towards anyone who represents “official” France.
French police are sometimes attacked with Molotov cocktails when they enter such areas. Firemen and ambulance attendants are not treated much better. Police even had difficulty protecting a French president, Jacques Chirac, and his interior minister when they went campaigning in a banlieue. The two high-ranking politicians were also met with Molotovs and had to retreat.
In all, the French housing projects have the look of scarred battlefields with burnt out cars littering the landscape. The extent of France’s lawlessness problem manifested itself last month when 592 cars were torched in France in the two nights surrounding Bastille Day, July 14 and 15, 150 in the Paris region alone. To make matters worse, Islamic fundamentalists have attracted many of the banlieus’ unemployed, uneducated and frustrated young men to their cause. These fundamentalists, it is suspected, were the ones directing the 2005 disturbances and their recurrence in 2007.
In Germany, the problem neighbourhoods are often located within the city and not on the outskirts. Like in France, though, urban anti-societies have arisen, but in Germany they consist mainly of Turkish and Arab immigrants, many from Lebanon. In their districts, German laws and values now have little, if any, validity, while their culture of lawlessness does.
Police complain that when they conduct routine checks in these neighbourhoods, they are met with angry crowds and often risk assault. Even when a policeman is carrying out a simple duty, like inspecting someone’s identification, out of nowhere suddenly appear 20 to 30 men, yelling wildly, who push and shove him. They assemble quickly after having been contacted by cell phone.
While confrontations occur over nothing, violence can occur when the stakes are higher. When Berlin police arrested three drug-dealing Arabs in Kreuzberg, for example, a district where Turks and Arabs form the majority, they were immediately swarmed by two dozen men who tried to free the suspected criminals by force. Only the quick arrival of reinforcements saved the day. It is also in Kreuzberg that the first car burnings in Germany took place.
For the last ten years Berlin has been the leading German city for such “resistance-to-police” incidents. Overall, Germany’s police union records an average of 26,000 such occurrences a year, an increase of 60 per cent from the 1980s. Berlin accounts for about 3,000 of this total. In Germany’s capital, a union official said, there exists “an alarm level red” concerning violence against police.
“We have been registering for years a loss of police authority and a rapid sinking of a lack of restraint,” said Eberhard Schonberg, the police union’s head.
But what is even more disturbing to law enforcement officials is the increase in violent crime among minors, especially those with a foreign background. Germany was shocked this year when two youths, one Turkish and the other Greek, nearly beat a 76-year-old retired school principal to death in Munich last December. The pensioner had admonished them for smoking on a commuter train. The two criminals kicked and yelled “s**t German” at the man’s prostrate form after having knocked him down.
There is also an overrepresentation of immigrant youth in crime statistics. A survey of schools in western German cities showed that ten per cent of the Turkish students were repeat offenders, who had committed more than five violent offences. The same survey showed 8.3 per cent of students from the former Yugoslavia were in the same category along with 5.9 per cent from the former Soviet Union. Native-born Germans, who also included those from migrant backgrounds with German citizenship, made up only 2.9 per cent of such delinquents.
And while German teenagers are more often the victims of youth crime, immigrant youth brutality very often occurs between different ethnic groups. Violence between Turks and Arabs at one high school in Berlin, for example, became so bad the principal asked the city to close her school. This incident then led other principals across Germany to request the same for their schools.
But even immigrant children as young as eight are committing illegal acts. Police report of an Arab neighborhood in Duisburg, a city in the Rhineland, where such youthful miscreants “kick old ladies, demand sexual intercourse from women, throw water-filled balloons against business windows and deliberately cross streets at red lights to create traffic jams.” Their aim, police say, is to generate fear among outsiders.
The overall purpose of such disturbing behavior and anti-police incidents is to turn these immigrant neighbourhoods into lawless mini-states, where their tribal and religious customs and rules predominate, and criminals can act freely. In scuffles and confrontations German police are often told, in threat and obscenity-filled language, to go away and that these streets belong to the ethnic group that lives there.
As everyone knows, a competent and effective police force is necessary to protect the law-abiding citizen, guarantee his rights and carry out one of the main functions of the state: law and order. But increasingly in some European urban areas, a police uniform has come to mean nothing. And countries like Germany do not act now to reverse this, their cities will become as burnt out and eviscerated as the carcasses of cars France knows only too well.
Stephen Brown is a contributing editor at Frontpagemag.com. He has a graduate degree in Russian and Eastern European history. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.