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German minister blames men with “migrant background” for New York’s anger

origin 1Nancy Faeser, German Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs, attends a session in the German Bundestag. German minister blames men with “migrant background” for New York’s anger. Britta Pedersen/dpa

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser disagreed with her own government spokeswoman on Wednesday, blaming men with a migrant background for much of the firework violence that marred New Year’s Eve in Berlin and other cities.

“We have a big problem in major German cities with some young people with a migrant background who despise our state, commit acts of violence and are hardly reached by education and integration programmes,” Faeser told the Funke Media group.

He called for swift and clear consequences for the perpetrators, but his comments were very different from those of deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner. He told reporters that allegations that many of the troublemakers had a migrant background were a red herring.

“It was an attack on the rule of law,” he said.

In Berlin, 41 police officers were injured in rocket and firework attacks.

The Berlin police have initiated a total of 355 cases, with investigations ongoing for breach of the peace, assaulting and resisting law enforcement and rescuers, dangerous bodily injury and explosion.

Police arrested 145 people in Berlin, but all suspects were released after the measures were completed. About two-thirds were under the age of 25, 27 were under the age of 18, and 139 were men.

A total of 18 different nationalities were recorded among those arrested in the capital, with 45 suspected German nationals.

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey is planning a youth summit following the violent incidents and has proposed banning some firecrackers, saying a nationwide ban on all fireworks would be impossible to enforce.

He said invitations to young people should be sent out as soon as possible, a spokesman for the Senate, the city’s administration, told dpa.

Giffey dismissed criticism that Berlin failed to handle the situation appropriately, with revelers getting their first chance to use fireworks in three years due to the coronavirus pandemic. New Year’s Eve has long been a major date in the German capital, with the streets littered with debris from fireworks displays on January 1.

“We had the entire police and firefighters manpower that night, a triple of the emergency firefighters on the streets,” he told rbb-Inforadio on Wednesday. “I don’t see the police being limited here.”

His comments came after Friedrich Merz, the leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the largest opposition party at the federal level, told the Münchner Merkur newspaper that the state of Berlin was not addressing the situation. For years, he said, the Senate has limited police deployment options for political reasons.

Giffey, of the Social Democrats, the party that leads the government coalition at the federal level, underlined that it is not just a Berlin phenomenon.

Police and emergency workers were also attacked in several other cities on New Year’s Eve.

The federal interior ministry is preparing a report on attacks across Germany, but data has yet to be received from some larger federal states, spokesman Maximilian Kall said.

Germany’s leading pet registration service, Tasso, reported 660 dogs missing following the fireworks, which can disturb many animals.

origin 1Franziska Giffey (L), Mayor of Berlin, and Iris Spranger , Senator for Interior, Digitization and Sport, give a statement to the press during a visit to the bicycle patrol at the Rummelsburg police headquarters. Annette Riedl/dpa
origin 1Franziska Giffey (CL), Mayor of Berlin, and Iris Spranger (CR), Senator for Interior, Digitization and Sport, stand with police officers behind police bikes during a visit to the bike patrol at the Rummelsburg Police Headquarters. Annette Riedl/dpa