November Today in Terrorism

November 1, 2015: Bombing of asylum centre in Germany

Members of a German right wing terrorist group threw firebombs into a refugee centre in Freital in November 2015, injuring one.

Members of a German right wing terrorist group threw firebombs into a refugee centre in Freital in November 2015, injuring one.

FREITAL, GERMANY – Anti-immigrant hatred can sometimes lead to violent acts.

As a Canadian I have been raised to think that immigration is a natural thing. My own family, for instance, came to this land from eastern Europe in the early 20th century and settled in Montreal. I am a proud Canadian who just happens to be of Polish (on my father’s side) and Ukrainian (on my mother’s) extraction.

When I went to elementary school in the early 1960s in southern Ontario my classmates were, for the most part, the children of Portuguese, Italian and Dutch emigrants who saw Canada as a good place to raise a family after the destruction of Europe in WWII. The government of the day saw immigration as a good thing: more people to live in a large but sparsely populated land.

That attitude is still preponderant here. Recent polls show that while there is a growing sentiment that maybe we are taking in too many newcomers, most Canadians still back current levels. I for one hope that my fellow citizens do not follow the lead of some in other Western countries who have given immigration the thumbs down.

In some places, however, the anti-immigrant sentiment is high and getting higher. This is particularly true for much of Europe. The continent which took in hundreds of thousands a few years back is in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ and Syrian civil war, among other upheavals, now in a very different mood. And at times it gets ugly – even violent.

On this day in 2015 a right-wing extremist group known as Gruppe Freital (Freital Group) tossed a firebomb into an asylum centre in Freital, injuring a Syrian refugee. This was merely the latest in a spate of anti-immigrant attacks in Saxony.

A year later German federal prosecutors charged eight people with founding the organisation in eastern Germany. A year and a half later, Dresden’s high court sentenced seven members of the group to between five and 10 years for attempted murder.

It is one thing to have a reasonable debate on immigration levels. It is quite another to try to kill those who have sought safety in our lands.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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