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Indians Attacked in Germany

"Three days after eight Indian men were attacked, injured and chased through an Eastern German town by a mob while the townsfolk looked on, Germany is worried that this latest incident will hurt its image abroad and scare off foreign investors," writes Spiegel International:

The eight men were attacked by a mob of around 50 Germans at a street festival in the early hours of Sunday in the small town of Mügeln in the Eeastern German state of Saxony. The trigger for the violence was a brawl on the dance floor in a party tent shortly before 1 a.m., police said. The reason for the brawl was not yet clear.
The Indians left the tent where the dance was being held but were then attacked by a number of Germans who chased them across the town's market place until they took shelter in a pizzeria run by an Indian. The owner let them in, but the mob tried to kick in the doors of the restaurants as a large crowd looked on. The restaurant owner's car was also seriously damaged.

This incident was already commented on by some of our readers in the Black History post German Schools and Universities Don't Teach Black History

Personal Comment: I don't know which I'm more outraged, ashamed and upset about: The incident itself - another brutal, racist attack on immigrants in Germany with a huge crowd of people watching - or about the impression I get from this article that the attack's negative PR effect seems to be the single most pressing concern for politicians, the media and the business community alike.

Endnote by Joerg: Check out "This isn’t the Germany I know" in the expat blog: Letters Home to You.

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Bill on :

It's good that you highlighted this story Sonja in an exclusive post and its good to see genuine outrage and frustration from so many people across Germany. The government and police officials in Sachsen and in Berlin are really making fools of themselves as they try to control the image damage vs. coming up with answers to why it happened, who was involved with the violence, and how to minimize this type of violence against foreigners in the future. Problem is that you can never totally stamp out hate crimes and xenophobia and racial prejuidice in Germany or any other country for that matter but you can make the cost of carrying out these types of acts very dear indeed (long jail sentences plus hefty fines, etc.). That piece over at Letters Home to You was pretty well written and they have a follow-up post today about the German government's reactions and suggestions. See the reactions from Spiegel International readers in their letters to the Editor: Shame, Shame, Shame! Readers react to German Racist Attacks http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,501654,00.html This story is getting lots of play in the German press and TV media (as it should) but strangely is not getting much coverage in the Indian press and broadcast media according to this Indian blog community: Desicritics.org Mob Attacks Indians in Germany, Silence of the Indian Media http://desicritics.org/2007/08/21/114120.php What caught my eye today as I re-read some comments in the Desicritics.org post is comment #24, an (alleged) official response from the German Foreign Ministry. Here is the text from that comment: thank you very much for your e-mail dated 22 August to Foreign Minister Dr. Steinmeier, who has asked me to reply to you. The German Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence against Indian nationals which recently occured in Muegeln. The German Government has made it clear that this case must be thoroughly investigated and the culprits called to account. As you might be aware, the prosecuting attorney's office has promptly started his investigations. Germany is an open country and society that welcomes people from other countries and cultures. We highly value the contributions of foreigners and also of the Indian community in Germany to our society. It goes without saying that the security and protection of all citizens, be it foreigners or Germans, from violence and racial attacks such as in Muegeln, is of the highest importance for the German State and its Government. The German Government will, therefore, not tolerate any xenophobic incidents like in Muegeln and will not allow that they undermine the peaceful living together of foreigners and Germans in Germany. Sincerely Dr. Ralf Horlemann Deputy Director South Asia Federal Foreign Office (Division 340) Werderscher Markt 1 10117 Berlin Tel.: 0049/30/5000-2642 Fax: 0049/30/5000-2801

Sonja on :

Problem is that you can never totally stamp out hate crimes and xenophobia and racial prejuidice in Germany or any other country for that matter but you can make the cost of carrying out these types of acts very dear indeed (long jail sentences plus hefty fines, etc.). that's true. Gosh, what a nightmare! Do you think that the US' practice of prosecuting these kinds of crimes as "hate crimes" makes a difference? (Or have any information on that topic?) I don't think hate crimes are treated differently than "regular" crimes in Germany. I'm not sure what to think about the American policy.

Don S on :

"Do you think that the US' practice of prosecuting these kinds of crimes as "hate crimes" makes a difference?" I'm not sure. Punishments for these kinds of violent crimes are ptrtty stiff anyway 'hate' crime or no hate crime. I doubt the hate crime law makes much difference to the criminals. A lot depends on how the community deals with the crimes - whether they are accepted or rejected by the neighbors.

Sue on :

I'm very uncomfortable with the legal category of "hate crime" because it criminalizes peoples' thoughts and motivations rather than their actions; it institututes a category of offenses not unlike Orwell's "thought crime." Speaking hypothetically, is it morally worse if I beat you up because I don't like gays or black people, or because you were weak and I was opportunistic? The solution is to prosecute people vigorously, without exception, for the horrible things they do, but don't add charges on because of putative motivation. No one should be convicted of a crime because of one's opinions, no matter how abhorrent.

David on :

Sonja, In defense of Der Spiegel, they also have interviews today in the online edition with some of the Indian victims - you can access it [url=http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,501671,00.html]here[/url]. In general, I think Spiegel has done a reasonably good job of covering right-wing violence in the eastern states, although some of the newspapers in Berlin such as the Tagesspiegel have gone deeper into analyzing the root causes.

Don S on :

I think what is most disturbing about this story is the actions of the lookers-on. The appeanance is that assaulting minorities is accepted behavior in East Germany. In the US we used to have this kind of thing but in recent years hate crimes are not commonly done in the sight of other people. It is regarded (and pursued) as a thing of shame.

Marco on :

It was NOT a racist attack: read [url=http://www.opponent.de/index.php/post/24/][b]this.[/b][/url]

Don S on :

I read the link, Martin. I'm not sure it makes much difference. I don't use the word 'racist' myself because I think it's immensely overused but the story reported a 'mob' of Germans going after 8 Indians. A German was stabbed? Perhaps an Indian did it (although your link doesn't say so directly). In any case why weren't the police called rather than a 'mob' dishing out street 'justice'?

Fuchur on :

@Marco A few simple rules, if you want to be taken seriously: 1. Refrain from idiocies like calling the German mainstream media "totalitarian" (look the word up in a dictionary if you don't know what it means). 2. Provide links, or at the very least say what your sources are, if they aren't available on internet. "Police announced" or "according to a police spokeswoman" just isn't enough. There are too many liars around these days... 3. When you link to your own blog, say so. [i]Reports told of a mob of 50 hunting down 8 innocent Indian foreigners, but that's not the truth.[/i] That's interesting. So, you're implying that these 8 Indian citizens deserved it?! Let's make one thing absolutely clear: NOTHING justifies the behavior of that mob. As Don said: if (and I repeat: IF) somebody was stabbed: call the police. And there's another detail that's curiously enough missing in your version of the events: Many eyewitnesses have claimed that xenophobic paroles were chanted. That said, I'd also warn of foregone conclusions in that case. It's clear that what happened was a disgusting crime. And right now, everything looks as if a good deal of racism/xenophobia was involved. But it wouldn't be the first time that the first impression turned out wrong.

Marco on :

@Don //A German was stabbed? Perhaps an Indian did it (although your link doesn't say so directly).// The article doesn't say that. But police announced it today. //In any case why weren't the police called rather than a 'mob' dishing out street 'justice'?// The police was called early, but we don't have a police station in every single small tow. It's not necessary. Next police station to this small town (5000 inhab.) is 20 to 30 minutes away.

Kevin Sampson on :

'The police was called early, but we don't have a police station in every single small tow. It's not necessary.' LOL. What has to happen before you think it is necessary?

Don S on :

"The police was called early, but we don't have a police station in every single small tow. It's not necessary." This still doesn't explain it. There were many things that group could have done. They could have immobilised the Indians until the authorities came. They could have surrounded the Italian restaurant who gave them sanctuary - until the cops arrived. It was obviously a 'mob' and not merely a crowd. Crowds don't damage restaurants and cars - mobs do. And the motives do not look good - not with racist slogans reportedly being chanted..... Kevin has a good point. Don't you need part-time cops closer at least?

Marco on :

@Kevin It's your intention to misunderstand me, isn't it? It's not necessary in general - that's the opinion of police and politicians.

Marco on :

To all who like to judge Germans because of this story: It was not racism but even when it would be racism who can you blame all Germans for that? That's a collectivist mindset. Racism is collectivism too. So, you have to face the truth: You are racist.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

From the [url=http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1347273.php/Sudanese_Egyptian_injured_in_new_racist_attack_in_Germany]German Press Agency[/url]: "Two men from Sudan and Egypt were beaten up by a group of right-wing extremists in the latest xenophobic attack in Germany, officials said Friday. The men were set upon last Saturday in the southern state of Rhineland Palatinate, the same day as a group of Germans pursued and injured eight Indians in the eastern town of Muegeln."

Bill on :

Racists attacks in Nordrhein-Westfallen on the same day? I think there's a link here. The neo-Nazis from East and West are cooperating with one another to orchestrate coordinated attacks. Now where have I seen that before? What does Kurt Beck have to say about this, now that Steinmeier's office let slip that the attacks in Mügeln were of xenophobic origin (see the email from the German Foreign Ministry in my previous comment)? I hear he made a public statement last night on ARD about the NRW attacks. What is also interesting is that the NRW State's Attorney Office kept the attacks against the Afrikaner under wraps for several days while the Mügeln story was gathering steam in the international press and media. To Sonja: Yes, I think that classifying these type of crimes for what they truly are (hate crimes) does make a difference in the U.S., especially in educating and enlightening the general public that this kind of thing is wrong and the majority of the people of our country won't tolerate this s--t anymore! As Don mentioned in his comment Nr. 3, public lynchings in the U.S.A. have a very long and ugly tradition in our national history, especially during the Jim Crow years following the American Civil War right up to the beginning of World War II. Since about 1965 lynchings have almost disappeared from the American landscape and almost no one today wants to be characterized as or associated with a raving racist lunatic (white or black). However, being a racist in the privacy of your home or your private club (militias) and/or circle of special friends is O.K.

David on :

Bill, Kurt Beck has called for a ban of the NPD, and today he was joined in this call by the EU Commissioner for Justice - Franco Frattini - who called the neo-Nazis "a cancer on democracy". I am not in favor of the ban, but it would be good to debate the pros and cons on this Web site.

Zyme on :

A ban would not change anything effectively. Most violence is not caused by organized party members but by independent radicals. So a ban would only destroy the political progress the NPD has made so far. But what progress? They entered a few state parliaments and they will have a hard time entering more. So it doesn´t really matter. If the ban fails at the constitutional court however, they will have another public victory.

Don S on :

"Since about 1965 lynchings have almost disappeared from the American landscape" Well before that, I think. I recently reread 'To Kill a Mockingbird' which was written in 1960 about events in the South in 1935, and thought about the timeline. In 1867 they wouldn't have bothered with jail - the victim would have been summarily lynched. In 1900 the victim would have been taken from jail. In 1935 Atticus Finch was able to secure a trial in which an innocent negro man was judicially murdered - progress of a kind. And by the mid-60's even that was unthinkable. Arguably we went too far the other direction - by the mid-70's judges were releasing actual murders and rapists onto the streets to rape and murder again.

Don S on :

I didn't mean to imply that racial musders were a thing of the past in 1965 - that is far from true. There were the firebombings of negro churches in Mississippi and the murders of civil rights workers during that time frame. But the context had changed. People were ashamed of it - even in the South they were ashamed of it. So the lynchers could no longer do their work in public, which is what I think the essence of lynching is - public mob crimes in which much of the community is complicit. Others may differ, in which case one could classify the horrifying murder in 1998 of James Byrd in Texas as a lynching. But.... the Byrd murder was not done in public. The perps were arrests and stood trial. Two of them were sentenced to death and one to life imprisonment. The musderers acted in secret and were severely punished by the people in their own community. So in my view that isn't lynching.

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