Date: 04 April 2016
In response to the events of Brussels, German authorities have been investigating potential linkages between the attackers of Brussels and Germany. Since the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, sole survivor of the Paris attackers with close links to the assailants of Brussels, security services have confirmed that Abdeslam had been in the southern German town of Ulm in October 2015. According to source material obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Abdeslam met with three Syrian inhabitants of a refugee shelter in the town and brought them to Belgium. One of the three men has since been arrested together with Abdeslam in Brussels. Beyond that, the aftermath of the attacks witnessed a number of arrests of terrorist suspects within Germany itself. This establishes another troublesome linkage between the issues of migration and terrorism.
Against this backdrop, the German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière, has renewed his push for greater prerogatives for the security services. There is increased momentum building behind de Maizière’s demand to relax Germany’s data protection legislation. His fellow CDU/CSU Member of Parliament, Hans-Peter Uhl, asserted that it was “grotesque” that “bombs are exploding and we are worrying about data protection.” After the arrival of more than a million of undocumented and unknown refugees, it “has to be recognised that Europe must not just become a realm of freedom but primarily again a realm of security and law”, or so Uhl argued. Maintaining personal privacy and data protection has always been a core mantra of German political discourse and an important demand of the German public, especially after the revelations of Edward Snowden concerning the spying activities of the NSA. The aftermath of the Brussels attacks appears to show a growing willingness to challenge this long-standing consensus, potentially signifying an important shift in the German political landscape.
The main Muslim associations in Germany quickly condemned the Brussels attacks: Ayman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Committee of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), asserted that the wrath of God and all mankind would punish the attackers and condemn their agenda to failure. The predominantly Turkish DITIB association admonished the creation of a united front against hate, injustice, and terrorism. However, their interventions did not develop much traction in the media or in the public debate.