What next after Brokstedt’s knife attack? Markus Lanz discussed controversially the precarious situation of the judiciary and the weaknesses of the rule of law.
In the discussion about the events of New Year’s Eve, the term integration was often invoked. Some regarded what they associate with the word as a failure. Others shouted back: “Integrate yourself.” It was striking that the terms “they” and “we” were used in different ways – integration as a norm that had to be met, missed due to the situation or as an attitude towards social interaction altogether can generally be rejected.
It would probably be more realistic to understand integration as a permanent challenge that predictably or suddenly puts the individual to the test wherever he meets other people. Anyone who enters a train as a passenger integrates themselves as a passenger in one way or another, and anyone who drives a car or bicycle has to carry out integration services on the basis of the road traffic regulations. So where do the problems with the term come from?
“An explosion of violence will not take place”
One of those problems is characterized by violence, most recently perpetrated in harrowing ways on a train in Brokstedt, northern Germany. Two young people died after a knife attack. What, Markus Lanz asked in his ZDF talk show on Wednesday, happens if the crime has already happened? What can the suspected criminals expect?
The first thing they encounter is the perplexed reaction of those responsible in the judiciary and in politics. Not without bitterness, the statement by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser was recorded shortly after the crime became known, in which she asked how it was possible that a violent offender with such a criminal record could have been released from a prison. Deportation, repatriation, subsidiary tolerance were terms that followed in hasty diction.
The guests of the evening were all endowed with legal competence. The former Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger confirmed the ability of the judiciary to act and that the legal possibilities are definitely given. As always in such meetings, all the speakers guarded against platitudes and sweeping condemnations, and then occasionally resorted to them.
Tightening of the law was not necessary, it was said, and statements soon followed that one should not allow oneself to be misled into general condemnations of migrants. Gregor Peter Schmitz, editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Stern, referred to declining crime statistics. “An explosion of violence does not take place.”
The German-Egyptian author and Islam critic Hamed Abdel Samad fell into the role of putting his finger on the wound of an all too willing subsequent normalization. “We have to talk openly about failures in integration,” he said. Or much sharper: “The connection between violence, refugee policy, migration and religion is taboo.” This in turn quickly triggered appeasement formulas. One should not criminalize the large number of honest migrants, they suffered the most from terrible acts of violence like in Brokstedt.
“Origin alone does not make a perpetrator”
Andrea Titz, the chairwoman of the German Association of Judges, contributed sobering facts. It takes about 6 – 8 months between the offense and the indictment, the judiciary has major staffing problems and in the future there will probably also be considerable concerns about young people when about a third of the judges retire in the next seven years. A statistical addendum: After the Cologne New Year’s Eve 2015/2016, there were 1210 reports, 46 people were charged, 36 convicted, only two of them for the offense of sexual harassment.
In fact, it was difficult in this group, which was striving to have an objective discussion, to distinguish between significant individual cases and structural questions. After all, there is the Basic Law, said Gregor Peter Schmitz. It sounded like an unavoidable lifeline. Hamed Abdel Samad countered this with the view of a fragile certainty about the functioning principle of the rule of law. We are recklessly willing to sacrifice the Basic Law out of consideration for religious feelings, such as animal protection with regard to slaughter by Jewish and Muslim faith communities.
Some platitudes followed later, such as “We don’t apply the law consistently enough” or “Origin alone does not make a perpetrator”. But then it was already over and Markus Lanz thanked him for the exciting round at midnight.
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