US President Donald Trump attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy this week. The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition," he tweeted on June 18. "Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!" he added.
President Trump's comments come at a time when Merkel is facing the biggest crisis of her career. She is struggling to hold her government together, with the Bavarian Catholic party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), threatening to leave the governing coalition over immigration. The CSU wants the police to have the authority to turn away illegal migrants at the border, a move bitterly opposed by Merkel.
While Trump slammed Merkel's handling of the migrant crisis during his presidential campaign, until now, he has refrained from publicly criticizing her over the issue.
US President Donald Trump attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy on June 18, writing, "Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!" Pictured: Trump and Merkel meet in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2018. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Predictably, the mainstream media were quick to criticize President Trump for his remarks.
"Trump falsely claimed that crime in Germany is on the rise," wrote The New York Times.
The Washington Post ran a "fact-checking" story entitled, "Trump says crime in Germany is way up. German statistics show the opposite."
"Statistics contradict Trump's remarks," German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
"Trump's comments are certain to irk German ministers, especially as Europe's largest economy recently reported the lowest crime figures in more than 25 years. The number of crimes fell almost 10 percent in 2017 over the previous year."
CNN, BBC, Vox and even the youth fashion magazine Teen Vogue published similar reports.
With major media outlets on both side of the Atlantic reciting the same talking points in unison, millions of viewers and readers across the globe could come to believe that the Trump had made a false claim while attacking Merkel's open borders policy that let millions of migrants into Europe since the autumn of 2015.
According to the narrative peddled by the mainstream media, after a series of horrendous migrant crimes and string of deadly terrorist attacks perpetrated by newly arrived Muslim migrants, towns and cities across Germany were reverting to some sort of idyllic harmony.
All the media reports were based on the 2017 police crime statistics that registered a drop of almost 10% in the crime rate over the previous year. Speaking to reporters in May 2018, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer cited the report to assert that "the number of crimes committed in Germany is the lowest since 1992."
Let us examine that report closely.
On April 22, 2018, writing for the German newspaper Die Welt, Ansgar Graw challenged the much-quoted crime report in an article entitled, "The Reality Behind the New Statistics on Crime":
"When all [categories of] crimes are taken into consideration, then the crime has certainly gone down (by 9.6%) over the previous year. In case of violent crimes -- that particularly lead to fear -- the picture is nuanced. There was, however, a slight improvement compared to 2016 (and as well as to 2011 or 2012). But in general terms, violent crimes subjected to high fluctuation are above the levels [recorded] between 2013 and 2015."
Cases of murder. manslaughter, rape and sexual assault have risen measurably. In 2014, for example, a total of 180,955 acts of violence were reported, in previous year they were 188,946.
As Graw concludes, "the crime statistics drop only when compared to 2016, but have risen in comparison to the period before the refugee crisis." Addressing the issue of migrant crime, he wrote that "the proportion of non-German suspects across the board, and particularly when it came to violent crimes, was disproportionately high."
According to the 2017 crime statistics, more than 1,100 foreigners were charged with murder or manslaughter, as opposed to around 1,500 suspects holding German passports. The previous year's statistics showed a similar correlation: 1,137 foreigners were charged with homicide-related crime, compared to 1,638 German suspects. These are staggering numbers given the fact that Germany was home to roughly 10 million foreigners as opposed to 70 million German nationals.
In an article meant as a rebuttal to President Trump's tweets, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on June 19, 2018 admitted that the police crime report of 2017 showed a rise in homicide and sexual assault across the country. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, while correctly maintaining that the crime report showed an overall drop of 9.6%, disclosed that, "The number of homicides rose by 3.2%" and "the number of sexual assaults had risen as well."
On June 8, 2018, German public broadcaster Südwestrundfunk (SWR) admitted that there was a "correlation between refugee influx and rising crime."
Concerning violent crimes, the 2017 government crime report found that the police charged 69,163 foreigners for such crimes compared to 112,346 Germans. In 2016, the report showed a ratio of 67,869 non-German, compared to 110,494 for German suspects.
There is nothing new about the mainstream media seizing an opportunity to ridicule and discredit the US President. However, the issue of mass migration into Europe is bigger than a fresh round of Trump-bashing or finding delicacies for the next news cycle. By shielding Merkel's migrant policy from legitimate scrutiny and criticism, and hushing up a public debate, the mainstream media have become an accessory to the seriously flawed open-door migrant policy pushed by Merkel and the rest of European political elite.
Vijeta Uniyal, a journalist and news analyst, is based in Germany.