Stop the presses! Forget what you read in this morning’s newspaper. Last night, it was announced that the Berlin police arrested a 23 year-old refugee on the suspicion of involvement with the terrorist attack. It now turns out that he probably did not have anything to do with it. The same goes for the inhabitants of the refugee shelter that was raided last night: they all just happened to be the wrong brown persons on the wrong place. In the meantime, however, the association between refugees and terrorism has once again been established. Right-wing politicians and journalists have gratefully used the opportunity to spread fear and panic, to criminalize refugees, and to drive a wedge between different groups in our society. No matter what the outcomes of the police investigations will be, in the public perception these horrible crimes will always be linked to refugees. This damage cannot be undone. I’m not sure which thought is more unsettling: 1) that the police, the press, and the politicians who immediately blamed an innocent Pakistani refugee for these horrible attacks did not know what they were doing, or 2) that they knew ‘exactly’ what they were doing. Either way, the consequences of this thoughtless and reckless behavior can be severe – in particular for certain minorities in our society.
Mathijs van de Sande over “Here’s a roundup of what we know” (Guardian)