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CRIME

Hatred against Germans is increasing in Berlin, says city’s interior minister

Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, said on Wednesday that hatred towards Germans was on the rise in the capital, but cautioned that it was still far from the norm.

Hatred against Germans is increasing in Berlin, says city’s interior minister
Police at Alexanderplatz. Photo: DPA

“I have heard that [reports of hatred against Germans]. It is not the norm but it is becoming more common – to keep quiet about it would be wrong,” Geisel told daily newspaper Tagesspiegel.

“What can we do about it? It is clear that we need to intensify our efforts to integrate people. That includes German and ethics courses for refugees, optimally for all of them,” the Social Democrat added.

The interior minister was responding to a long report published by Tagesspiegel on Tuesday which asked whether Berlin was becoming “a place of fear.”

The newspaper reported on the individual experiences of various Berliners who had contacted the newspaper to argue that the city was becoming a place of “increased aggression and and an intensified feeling of fear. And this feeling has something to do with the arrival of refugees.”

Tagesspiegel spoke to Berliners from several walks of life – including refugee helpers – who spoke of their growing sense of insecurity.

“People’s sense of security is in danger,” one teacher from the wealthy Zehlendorf district said. The article reported women being harassed in the streets for the way they dressed or being asked in parks to go into the bushes for sex. Meanwhile, interviewees alleged that young Arab men felt that they could get away with petty crime as the police failed to impose the law in trouble spots like Hermannplatz in Neukölln.

But Geisel pointed out that criminal statistics show that “the city is objectively becoming safer.”

Criminal statistics for Berlin, released on Friday, show that 50,000 fewer crimes were recorded last year compared to 2016.

At the same time though, the proportion of crimes which are solved has dropped significantly over the past decade. Whereas in 2007 50 percent of crimes were solved, that number dropped to 44.2 percent last year.

“We are doing a lot in places like Alexanderplatz – there are more police on patrol there. But we still need to light the place better, and to make it more visually appealing,” Geisel said.

READ MORE: Six common questions people have about refugees in Germany

CRIME

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners

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