Cars set on fire in Berlin in ‘copycat’ incident
7 November 2005
BERLIN – More police were ordered onto the streets of the German capital Monday after five cars were set on fire in a poor district – fuelling fears of copycat violence like the rioting sweeping France.
“The extra patrols are a preventive measure,” said Berlin police spokesman.
The cars were burned in five separate streets in Berlin’s Moabit district, a poor region with a high number of foreigners a few kilometres from the central government district. Nobody was injured in the attacks.
Police said nobody had claimed responsibility for the attacks and that all possible motives were being investigated.
“I don’t want to speculate if these were … copy-cat crimes,” said outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s spokesman, Thomas Steg, who stressed the situation in Germany was totally different than in France where 1,400 cars were torched overnight.
Cars have been regularly set on fire in Berlin by left-wing extremists on violent May 1 protests which have been a fixture in the city since the 1980s.
Moabit is in former West Berlin and has a high number of Turkish nationals. Turks comprise the biggest foreign minority in Berlin, numbering 118,000 out of a total population of 3.4 million, according to official figures.
There are about 450,000 foreigners living in the German capital.
Berlin does not, however, have the same sort of huge, impoverished foreign ghettos as Paris.
Although parts of the city such as Wedding and Neukoelln have major social problems and high unemployment, they have not become no- go areas for police.
Youth unemployment in Germany is less of a problem than in France, according to European Union data. In Germany some 13.8 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 years are jobless, compared with almost 22 per cent in France.
Politicians from all German parties underlined the difference between Germany and France but they warned that steps had to be take to improve integration of foreigners.
“We don’t have ghettos like in France,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Greens member of the European Parliament in comments to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
Cohn-Bendit also stressed that Germany’s social welfare network was in far better shape than that of France.
*sidebar1*Wolfgang Schaeuble, a senior member of designated chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said greater efforts were needed to ensure that all young foreigners learned the German language.
“Districts are developing in our cities with high proportions of foreigners which are being cut off from the rest of society,” said Schaeuble.
Michael Mueller, a left-leaning member of outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD) said the events in Paris showed that Germany could not afford to trim back its social welfare programmes.
“Social conflicts and disintegration are increasing in Germany,” said Mueller.
Subject: German news