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?
“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.