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Why Trump is wrong (again) on migrants and crime in Germany

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Why Trump is wrong (again) on migrants and crime in Germany
Donald Trump. Photo: DPA
16:17 CEST+02:00
Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to fire off two tweets about the “tenuous” state of politics in Germany. Not for the first time, he showed his ignorance of developments in German society.

Trump waded into the political crisis facing Chancellor Angela Merkel, declaring that the German people were "turning against their leadership" over immigration.

"We don't want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!" he said in a pair of tweets.

"The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition," he said, adding that "crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!"

Trump's comments came as Merkel was fighting to save her coalition government amid demands by her interior minister to turn back immigrants at the border.

Is crime ‘way up'?

Whether it is appropriate for him to say so or not, Trump is right in his claim that a fight over asylum laws is rocking the German government. Merkel's future as Chancellor has never looked so uncertain after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer reportedly said he couldn't work with her any more.

The US President is also right when he says the German population has turned against Merkel on this issue. Opinion polling shows that a majority of the public support Seehofer, who wants to turn back asylum seekers at the border who have already been registered in other EU countries.

But his assertion that “crime in Germany is way up” is simply not true. Crime figures for last year show a drastic drop in reported crime. Most types of crime - including violent crime - fell in 2017, meaning it was actually the year with the least reported crime in three decades.

While reported crime is a far from reliable way of calculating actual crime, it is also the only method that currently exists of tracking nationwide crime trends.

Trump also asserts that refugees have “strongly and violently” changed German culture. What exactly he means by this is not clear. German beer consumption has dropped in recent years but we haven't seen any refugees ripping Maßes from their hands at Oktoberfest. Last time we checked they were also still fans of Bratwurst and bad pop music.

There is a serious debate to be had on crime linked to asylum seekers. Several politicians from moderate parties such as the Greens and the Christian Democrats have stuck their heads above the parapet and pointed out that asylum seekers are over-represented in crime statistics.

SEE ALSO: Why are refugees disproportionately likely to be suspects in sexual assault cases?

Meanwhile German newspapers have started to tentatively talk about the prevalence of refugees as suspects in sexual assault cases.

A serious question to ask is whether Germany takes the connection between asylum seekers and certain types of crime seriously enough. But stating that crime is “way up” due to refugees in a highly irresponsible distortion, especially when it comes from the President of the US.

This also isn't the first time Trump has been guilty of exaggerating the crime rate in Germany.

In 2016 he said that “you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany. Crime has risen to levels that no one thought they would ever, ever see. It is a catastrophe.”

He made that statement when the latest crimes figures (those for 2015) showed that recorded crime per head in Germany had dropped from 7,337 crimes per 100,000 resident to 7,301 per 100,000 residents.

READ ALSO: What we learned from this year's crime statistics... and what we didn't

 
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