Following a spate of terrorist attacks in Germany and neighboring nations, Germany’s interior minister proposed new security measures Thursday, including fast-track deportations and a bid to strip citizenship from German nationals who fight for the Islamic State.
The push amounts to the most direct response in Germany to the string of terrorist attacks, which included two by asylum seekers who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. It also underscores a shift toward more aggressive security steps in a nation often resistant to heavy-handed state tactics following the Cold War and the Nazi era.
Meanwhile, Germany joins other European nations such as France and Belgium in efforts to retool policing and counterterrorism powers amid rising threats from militants.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s top security official, vowed to boost cybersecurity, increase security personnel and provide police with better equipment.
German nationals who have fought in Syria or Iraq for the Islamic State, he said, would lose their citizenship under the proposals, some of which would ultimately need approval in Parliament after further discussions among party officials in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition.
Earlier this year, France backed off a similar citizenship-stripping proposal after complaints from rights groups and others.
Meanwhile, rejected asylum seekers in Germany who deliberately delay or resist deportation would face sharply reduced benefits and immediate attempts to eject them from Germany, according to the proposals.
“It can’t be the case that by acting brash and impertinent, a person’s stay in Germany can be prolonged,” de Maizière told reporters in Berlin.
Yet de Maizière rejected two measures seeking a ban on full Muslim face coverings for women, such as burqas, as well as the abolition of dual citizenship. Both ideas were floated by officials from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union.
“You can’t ban everything you’re against,” he said. “And I’m against wearing a burqa.”
De Maizière must now engage in a round of negotiations with coalition partners in a bid to form a consensus around the new measures, which were largely aimed at Islamist factions. At least some of the proposals face potential opposition.
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SOURCE: Stephanie Kirchner
The Washington Post