German Arabs stunned by rise of Far Right
German Arabs stunned by rise of Far Right
But pundits claim the result doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Angela Merkel’s welcoming of refugees.
While Chancellor Merkel won a fourth term, it came at a cost, with the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany party (AfD) polling 13 percent.
That means around 90 hard-right nationalists will take their places in the democratic process, the first time in almost six decades that an openly nationalist party will enter the Bundestag.
For Dr. Nicholas Martin, the director of the Institute for German Studies at Birmingham University, the rise in votes for the AfD can be explained by Merkel’s open-door policy to refugees.
“It seems as if it’s Germany’s turn to feel the populist wave, after Brexit and Trump,” Martin told Arab News.
“It is consistent with the deep mistrust by certain sections of society of the government and the governing class of elites, including the media.
“But it is also clearly a German reason (behind the vote) and it’s to do with Merkel’s refugee policy. In Germany they have four-year set terms so this has been the first time people have had a chance to express their feelings about it nationally.”
A poll showed that the AfD got 1.2 million votes from past non-voters and also revealed that 89 percent of AfD voters thought that Merkel’s immigration policies ignored the “concerns of the people”, with 85 percent wanting stronger national borders.
Ever since Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open Germany’s borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees, there have been fears the nationalist, anti-immigration tide, which has been seen across Europe, could affect Germany.
Arabs living in Germany reacted with worry to the news that far right politicians will be seated in the Bundestag.
Nadia Kneifed, a Syrian living in Germany said she fears the popularity of AfD will only increase.
“A lot of the refugees are only in Germany to improve their life and way of living,” she wrote on Syrian home in Germany, a Facebook group for Syrians living there.
“Some Germans hide what they think of us (Arabs) and in four years the far-right could rule.”
Mohamad El-Youssef, who lives in Berlin, claimed the popularity of the AfD could be explained completely by Merkel’s open-door policy.
“Most people in Germany are afraid of the far right,” he said.
“There are Arabs who have lived here for more than 50 years and until two years ago were never pointed at or viewed as the problem.
“But since the refugee influx we are seeing more anti-Arab feelings. The problem is if refugees get work then they are stealing people’s jobs, if they don’t then they are living off the state — they cannot win.”
While their worry is understandable, Dr. Martin said people should not expect any huge shift away from Merkel’s pro-refugee policies.
“I don’t think this will put a stop to the refugee policy,” Martin said.
“Clearly she will have to make some noises in the direction of the protesters but she will be able to form a broad-based government in favor of the policy and very much against the Neo-Nazis
“It’s dangerous to draw parallels with other movements in different countries, I am confident Merkel will be able to build a coalition and tough it out regarding her refugee policy.
“But if I was an immigrant, I would feel less secure. Results like these can embolden people to be more openly hostile and racist.”
Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief
- Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan lost its chief Mullah Fazlullah along with four guards last week when a US drone fired on his vehicle after he attended an 'iftar' party
- Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander
ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders have been in hectic consultations over the past few days to appoint their new chief after a US spy aircraft killed the group’s chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, locals and journalists told Arab News.
Fazlullah was killed along with his four guards on June 13 when a drone fired missiles on his vehicle shortly after he attended an “iftar” party at the center of the Taliban militants from Swat valley based in Kunar’s Marora district.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the death of Fazlullah, who had led a violent campaign against security forces in Swat until 2009, and later appeared in Afghanistan, where he had regrouped his fighters. The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, however, has not yet confirmed the leader’s death.
A senior journalist from Waziristan, who extensively reports on the Pakistani Taliban, has confirmed that the Taliban are involved in consultations to appoint a new leader.
Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, an expert on Taliban affairs who writes for international media, said on Monday the Taliban leaders are delaying the announcement of Fazlullah’s death before the appointment of his successor to avoid any internal rift.
“Huge divisions surfaced following the death of previous TTP leader Ameer Hakimulllah Mehsud in a US drone strike. The rift resulted in the killing of dozens of Taliban from the Sajna and Sheharyar Mehsud factions,” Tipu told Arab News.
Hakimullah was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1, 2013. Taliban militants from the Mehsud factions involved in fighting after Hakimullah’s death and infighting had reportedly claimed lives of nearly 200 people from both sides.
Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander but have not yet reached a consensus on who should lead the group.
“Discussions have been held about three candidates — Omar Rehman, known as Ustad Fateh (Swat), Sheikh Khalid Haqqani (Swabi) and Zahid Qari (Bajaur),” another source close to the Taliban told Arab News.
Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, alias Abu Asim, the TTP deputy chief and Mohammed Azeem, alias Maulvi Khatir, who heads the Mehsud faction of the Taliban, are also among the possible candidates. Both are from South Waziristan.
Earlier it was reported that the TTP’s "shoura" elected Fateh, a close confidant of Fazlullah, as their new chief.
A senior journalist in South Waziristan, Ishtiaq Mehsud, disagreed with the reports about the appointment of Ustad Fateh as the TTP new leader and insisted that consultations were still underway.
Ishtiaq said that the delay to name the new chief was not because of TTP’s differences but because the commanders faced difficulties in contacting each other as they live in different areas.
“There are no differences in the TTP’s ranks and according to my information the majority of the commanders are in favor of Mufti Noor Wali to lead the group,” Ishtiaq told Arab News.
Wali, author of “Inquilab Mehsud,” was appointed deputy TTP chief after a US drone killed Khan Said Sajna in February this year. He previously headed the powerful Mehsud Taliban.
Mohammed Khorasani, the TTP spokesman, did not reply to several emails from Arab News about the death and the consultation process to name the new chief.