A Syrian migrant was stabbed to death in northern Germany by another Syrian because he was eating ice cream during Ramadan. The murder — which occurred in broad daylight in a busy pedestrian shopping area in Oldenburg and caused great consternation among local citizens — is not just the latest example of Sharia law being enforced on German streets. The crime also highlighted the growing epidemic of knife violence in Germany.
Knives, axes and machetes have become weapons of choice for criminals in Germany, which has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. Knives are not only being used to carry out jihadist attacks, but increasingly to commit homicides, robberies, home invasions, sexual assaults, honor killings and many other kinds of violent crime.
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Reliable statistics on knife violence in Germany do not exist. A search of German police blotters, however, shows that during the past ten years the number of knife-related crimes in Germany has increased by more than 1,200%. Around 4,000 such crimes were reported to police in 2016, up from just 300 in 2007.
It is also impossible to determine how many of these knife crimes involved migrants. Increased censorship by the police and the media, aimed at stemming anti-immigration sentiments, makes the public incapable of knowing the names and national origins of many perpetrators or victims.
The surge in knife-related violence in Germany does, however, coincide with Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow in some two million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The number of reported knife crimes in Germany jumped by 600% during the past four years — from about 550 in 2013 to nearly 4,000 in 2016.
Police reports show that both migrants and non-migrants are responsible for the increase in knife crimes in Germany. Merkel's open-door migration policies appear to have set in motion a self-reinforcing cycle of violence in which more and more people are carrying knives in public — including for self-defense. Her policies appear to be leading to more and more stabbings, especially when alcohol is involved.
Not only are knife-related crimes surging, but the perpetrators and victims of such crimes are increasingly younger and increasingly female:
- In Bochum, a 19-year-old woman stabbed two boys, aged 12 and 13 years. Police said the three had been arguing when the woman pulled out a knife. The boys ran away and tried to hide in a parking garage, but the woman pursued and attacked them.
- In Soest, a 16-year-old boy stabbed a 17-year-old classmate seven times in the chest in a dispute over a girl. The victim was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries to his heart. The assailant was released after a psychiatrist persuaded prosecutors that he could not be held responsible for his actions because he acted in the "heat of passion" (im Affekt).
- In Essen, two boys, aged 11 and 13, pulled a knife on a 20-year-old woman in an effort to rob her of her cellphone. She resisted and called police, who detained the attackers.
- In Wuppertal, a "southern looking man" (südländisches Erscheinungsbild) stabbed a 13-year-old boy after he looked at his attacker supposedly "the wrong way."
- In Kirchdorf, a "southerner" (südländische Erscheinung) pulled a knife on a 12-year-old girl.
- In Nachrodt-Wiblingwerde, a group of teenagers drew a knife on a 17-year-old girl after she "provoked" them.
- In Berlin-Neukölln, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed during an altercation with a 32-year-old man.
- In Neumünster, a 15-year-old stabbed a 19-year-old after two groups of teenagers got into an altercation.
- In Gevelsberg, a "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutig) stabbed a 14-year-old girl near the central train station as she was walking home.
Some knife attacks appear to have political or religious motives:
- In Hanover, a 16-year-old German-Moroccan girl stabbed a police officer in the neck with a kitchen knife. Police said the incident, which occurred at the central train station, was the first jihadist attack in Germany inspired by the Islamic State. "The perpetrator did not display any emotion," a police spokesperson said. "Her only concern was for her headscarf. She was concerned that her headscarf be put back on properly after she was arrested. Whether the police officer survived, she did not care."
- In Prien am Chiemsee, an Afghan man stabbed to death an Afghan woman who had converted to Christianity. The attacker ambushed the woman as she was exiting a grocery store with her two children.
- In Munich, a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" and "infidels must die" stabbed one person to death and slashed three others in an attack at a train station.
- In Würzburg, on a train, an Afghan asylum seeker shouting "Allahu Akbar" attacked five people with an axe.
- In Oberhausen, a man shouting "Allahu Akhbar" stabbed a 66-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man who were picnicking.
Knife attacks are also common during brawls involving feuding ethnic groups:
- In Gelsenkirchen, gangs of Syrian and Lebanese youths got into a mass knife fight in the city center. Police said that the level of violence was "brutal."
- In Mülheim, around 80 members of two rival Lebanese clans got into a knife fight in the center of the city. It took hundreds of police, armed with machine guns, dogs and helicopters, more than three hours to restore order.
- In Hanover, members of two rival Kurdish clans got into a knife fight in front of the central train station.
- In Mainz-Gonsenheim, several people were stabbed during a mass brawl between Syrians and Iranians.
- In Dortmund, an immense brawl ensued after a member of one ethnic group pulled a knife on someone from another ethnic group.
- In Neumünster, a 15-year-old stabbed a 19-year-old after two groups of teenagers from feuding ethnic groups got into an altercation.
- In Gütersloh, two men were stabbed and seriously wounded during a fight between two feuding ethnic groups.
- In Leipzig, an Iraqi man was stabbed and seriously injured during a massive brawl in front of a Kebab restaurant. When police tried to intervene, the mob attacked them with bottles and stones
- In Hamm-Herringen, two men were stabbed and seriously wounded during a fight between two feuding ethnic groups.
Other knife attacks are seemingly random:
- In Hamburg, a 16-year-old boy and his 15-year-old girlfriend were walking along the banks of the Alster, a lake in the heart of the city, when a stranger ambushed them from behind and plunged a knife into his back. The attacker then pushed the girl into the water and walked away. The girl survived but the boy died. The suspect, a "southern-looking" (südländischer Erscheinung) man in his early twenties, remains at large. Police say the victims were not robbed and there is no evident motive for the crime: they said that the suspect appears to have randomly stabbed the boy just because he felt like it.
- In Bremen, a 29-year-old man was randomly stabbed and seriously wounded at the Waterfront shopping center. The entire facility was closed after the attack.
- In Dessau-Roßlau, two Syrian asylum seekers randomly stabbed two German female passersby in a pedestrian zone in broad daylight.
- In Düsseldorf, a man brandishing a machete randomly stabbed an 80-year-old man in the Kalkum district. He remains at large.
- In Wrohm, an Eritrean migrant randomly stabbed a 51-year-old woman.
Knife-related incidents are also becoming increasingly common on public transport hubs:
- In Hamburg-Billstedt, two brothers were stabbed during a robbery at the Legienstraße subway station.
- In Frankfurt, two "presumably East Europeans" (mutmaßlich Osteuropäer) wielding knives attacked commuters at the "Bonames Mitte" subway station.
- In Dortmund-Bochum, two feuding ethnic groups got into a knife fight on the S-1 line.
- In Dresden, a man carrying a 20-centimer (8-inch) knife was arrested at the central train station.
- In Schönefeld, a man randomly pulled a knife on a traveler at the airport. It remains unclear how the perpetrator passed the knife through airport security.
- In Baden-Baden, a man wielding a knife threatened passengers on a train.
Knives appear to be the weapon of choice in so-called honor killings:
- In Kiel, a German-Turkish man stabbed to death his estranged Turkish wife in front of a daycare center.
- In Bocholt, a Lebanese man stabbed to death his Moroccan wife, the mother of his three children, because he thought she wanted to divorce him.
- In Scheeßel, an Iraqi man stabbed to death his wife. Police described the murder as an honor killing.
- In Ahaus, a Nigerian asylum seeker stabbed to death a Hindu woman after she seemingly offended his honor by rejecting his romantic advances. The woman was employed at the asylum shelter where her attacker lived.
- In Hanover-Mühlenberg, a Serbian man stabbed his ex-girlfriend after she ended their relationship and had begun seeing someone else.
- In Berlin, a 32-year-old Bosnian man stabbed to death his former girlfriend after she ended their abusive relationship.
- In Hanau, a Syrian refugee stabbed to death his 30-year-old sister, who was 23 weeks pregnant and was accused of having brought shame to her family. Her unborn child also died in the attack.
- In Freiburg, a Syrian asylum seeker stabbed his wife, a Kurdish Christian who had moved out of the couple's apartment, but had returned to collect some personal belongings.
- In Köln-Buchheim, an Iraqi man stabbed to death his 19-year-old daughter because he did not approve of her boyfriend. The man may never face justice; he is believed to have fled to Iraq.
- In Bonn, a Palestinian brandishing a "Rambo knife" and shouting "Allahu Akbar" tried to behead a doctor. The attacker's 19-year-old son had complained about the doctor's treatment for a fractured leg. The man, holding the doctor down on the floor, said: "Apologize to my son. Go down on your knees and kiss his hand."
Germany's knife-crime problem is being exacerbated by its lenient judicial system, in which offenders receive relatively light sentences, even for serious crimes. In many instances, individuals who are arrested for knife-related crimes are released after questioning from police. This practice allows criminal suspects to continue committing crimes with virtual impunity.
In Berlin, for example, a migrant who stabbed and seriously injured another migrant after he refused to give him alcohol and drugs was released and financially compensated because no witnesses to the crime could be found.
Also in the German capital, investigators discovered that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old suspect in the December 2016 Berlin terrorist attack in which 12 people died, had been involved in a knife-fight in the city's Neukölln district in July 2016, but police failed to arrest him. Had Amri been deported, as he should have been, the Berlin attack possibly could have been prevented.
According to Arnold Plickert, the deputy national chairman of the GdP police union, much of the knife-violence in Germany can be attributed to certain segments of society that live according to their own rules, not those of the German state. In an interview with knife-blog.com, a German forum for knife enthusiasts, he said:
"We are monitoring a specific target group, which mainly consists of young males who are armed in everyday life and basically are dedicated to armed confrontation. We see this particularly in large Arab families, Lebanese clans, for whom knives are standard gear. Knives are also basic equipment for career criminals and members of youth gangs."
Plickert also noted changes in German society, including a growing disrespect for police and rescue workers: "From my point of view, I can say that the inhibition threshold to the use of violence has significantly decreased."
Meanwhile, more than 1,600 knife-related crimes were reported in Germany during just the first five months of 2017 — an average of 300 such crimes each month, or ten a day. Notable knife-related incidents during the month of May include:
In Freiburg, a Turkish man stabbed another Turk sitting in the passenger seat of a car stopped at a traffic light. In Karlsruhe, a Somali asylum seeker stabbed another Somali asylum seeker. Police said the attack was an act of revenge: the stabbing victim had recently stabbed the stabber. In Aachen, a North African man pulled a knife on a security guard at a grocery store after he was caught shoplifting.
In Schwerin, a Syrian man pulled a knife on another Syrian man in a dispute over a 15-year-old girl who is not Syrian. In Gelsenkirchen, a 20-year-old pulled a knife on a 46-year-old man during a traffic incident. In Bad Oldesloe, four teenagers pulled a knife and robbed a 61-year-old man. In Wiesbaden, a "southern-looking" man pulled a knife and tried to rob a man at a sports complex. In Hofheim, a man with an "Eastern European accent" pulled a knife and tried to rob a store.
In Peine, an asylum seeker from Sudan stabbed and seriously wounded an asylum seeker from the Ivory Coast. In Kassel, a Syrian migrant stabbed a Turkish man during a dispute over money. In Bad Reichenhall, a man stabbed another man in the neck during an altercation at a bar. In Bühl, a man stabbed several people at a public swimming pool. In Wiesbaden, a man was stabbed and seriously wounded during an altercation at a city park.
In Augsburg, two men were stabbed by a random attacker at a grill fest. In Hamburg, an unknown assailant stabbed a migrant from Guinea-Bissau. In Rheine, two men speaking German with a French accent pulled a knife on a woman and robbed her.
In Berlin, a man stabbed and seriously wounded his former girlfriend and her new partner during an altercation at a restaurant in Waidmannslust. In Duisburg, a man pulled a knife on a cashier at a supermarket. In Salzgitter, a man stabbed another man in a restaurant. In Freiburg, an Eastern European-looking man (osteuropäisch) stabbed a 15-year-old boy during an altercation at a restaurant. In Danndorf, three men were stabbed during an altercation over drugs.
In Mölln, a man stabbed a co-worker in the back. In Michelstadt, a man stabbed another man during an altercation. In Essen, a man pulled a knife on his wife at the central train station. In Karlsruhe, a man was stabbed by his girlfriend's former boyfriend. In Cologne-Ostheim, a 16-year-old student pulled a knife on his classmates and teacher.
In Neuenburg, two men were stabbed during an altercation at a restaurant. In Kassel, a man was stabbed in the neck during an altercation at a café. In Dortmund, a man was robbed at knifepoint at the central bus station.
In Cottbus, members of Syrian gang stabbed five Germans. In Lich, a man was stabbed during an altercation. In Kassel, a man was randomly stabbed by a man with a "southern appearance" (südländisches Äußeres). In Preetz, a man pulled a knife on shoppers at a supermarket. In Dortmund, two men were stabbed during an altercation in the city center. In Frankfurt-Schwanheim, a man wielding a knife robbed a local post office.
In Pforzheim, a 53-year-old Tajik man stabbed to death his 50-year-old wife at her place of employment, a Christian daycare center. It remains unclear if the woman was a convert to Christianity. In Wardenburg, an Iraqi man stabbed to death his wife, the mother of his five children, while she was asleep in her bed.
In Tübingen, a man was stabbed and seriously injured at the central train station during an altercation. In Hamburg-St. Georg, two men were stabbed and seriously injured near the train station. In Berlin-Wedding, two brothers were stabbed during an altercation with another man at a Kebab restaurant. In Kreuztal, a 53-year-old man was stabbed and seriously wounded during an altercation at his home.
In Lübeck, a 21-year-old man was stabbed and seriously injured during an altercation between two groups near the central bus station. In Diez, a woman stabbed a man in the back. In Ründeroth, a 17-year-old was stabbed and seriously wounded at a local festival. In Neuendettelsau, an Ethiopian asylum seeker stabbed his girlfriend in the stomach at a restaurant after she allegedly "provoked" him. The woman, five months pregnant, survived but the unborn baby died.