I’m Quite Shaken by the Attacks in France and Germany
I’m struggling to find my words today. Once again, France and Germany have been the sites of new attacks , and these events leave me feeling helpless, depressed, and sad.
A few days ago, I completed my editorial calendar for the next few weeks. I usually try to rotate topics about American, French or German culture. Once a month, I discuss a lighter topic: the small day-to-day differences between the United States (where I live now), and France (where I was born and grew up), or Germany (where I lived for 20 years before moving to the United States).
I had planned to discuss the recent attacks. I had outlined a few points, all of which were my way to rationalize my emotions.
But on Tuesday, two young, crazy, radicalized French misfits entered a church. They took hostages and slit a priest’s throat; a defenseless man of God who was 86 years old…
Attacks in France and Germany During Summer 2016[wpgmza id=”1″]
July 14, 2016 – Nice (France), a truck plowed through the crowd. Eighty-four dead.
July 18, 2016 – Würzburg (Germany): An Afghan refugee attacked train passengers. Five wounded, including two seriously.
July 21, 2016 – Munich (Germany): A young German-Iranian man opened fire on a crowd. Nine dead.
July 24, 2016 – Ansbach (Germany): A Syrian asylum-seeker blew himself up in the middle of a crowd. Fifteen wounded, including 4 seriously.
July 26, 2016 – Rouen (France): Two men with knives entered a church. One dead.[crp limit=”2″ heading=”1″ cache=”1″]
What Are The Parallels Between the Attacks in France And Those In Germany?
They affect both of my home countries. Any attack is horrible, but I now fear for my friends and family on both sides of the Rhine.
Those responsible were young Muslim men. Until Tuesday’s attack, they acted alone.
It appears that all the attacks were pre-planned. They were not spontaneous.
Other than Munich, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for all the attacks. Sometimes later, like with Nice, and sometimes immediately, like with Rouen.All the attacks in France and Germany made headlines in the American newspapers. Tweet This!
Nice and Munich made the front pages. Ansbach and Rouen occurred during the Republican and Democratic Conventions, respectively. This more or less dominated the news, but the Americans certainly talked about it.
What are the Differences?
The Munich attack was not a terrorist act, but that of someone unstable. He was Muslim, but he could have been Christian. Two out of three attackers in Germany were refugees who came to Germany in the last two years.
The person responsible for the slaughter in Nice was Tunisian. He was legal and had a work permit. The butchers in Rouen were both born in France, had lived there all their lives, but also became radicalized there.
The choice of weapon varied. The attacker in Munich choose a gun, but more traditional weaponry was used in Rouen (knives) and Würzburg (an axe), while an improvised bomb was used in Ansbach. The most unlikely weapon was the heavy truck used in the Nice attack.
No firearms were used other than in Munich, which may also explain why the result seems less significant for Americans when compared to Orlando. Weapons are not readily available in France and in Germany, and their possession is strictly regulated.
The Location of the Attacks
Munich, Germany and Nice, France are large cities of which people all over the world have probably heard. Every year, Munich celebrates its beer festival, “Oktobertfest”. Nice is in the center of the Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera.
The places where these attacks occurred have nothing in common, and include a shopping mall, a music festival, a train, a church, and the seaside.
But the biggest difference between the attacks in France and those in Germany involve the police.
While watching the events in Munich unfold in horror, I quickly noticed that the reporters very often cited the Munich Police’s Twitter account (@PolizeiMünchen). At one time when things were settling down, I even noticed a reporter congratulating the manager of the @PolizeiMuenchen social networks for his excellent work communicating and providing information.
In France right now, the Police and its ministry are under fire for trying to cover up gaps in security on the day of the attack. This article (in French) from Le Monde says more: Security in Nice: The Municipal Police Gives the “names and details” to the prosecutor.
Sigh…I’m not sure. There are men, women and children in the hospitals struggling to survive. I would prefer to know where they are.
The Final Word
I recently spoke with Michael, a dear American friend, about my general feeling of insecurity in the United States. There are firearms everywhere, and instead of resolving conflicts verbally or with fists, guns are easily pulled out here! Michael doesn’t share my sentiment, but he said we would have to get used to attacks in France and in Germany.
Unfortunately, he is right.