While in many European countries there have been large pro-refugee demonstrations, the European news media are also reporting an increasing amount of aggression and violent attacks being carried out towards the asylum seekers.
Most attention has received Germany, where numerous attacks by far-right and neo-Nazi groups have been reported. Worst ones were arson attacks to two refugee shelters that left five people injured at the end of last month. Around the same time there were also large protests near the city of Dresden in Eastern Germany, where reportedly close to thousand protesters shouted anti-refugee slogans before clashing violently together with the police, injuring 31 officers.
After the British government announced that UK will be taking in 20 000 refugees, far-right extremist groups posted threats and degrading images online. Some of these groups are international and have already committed violent attacks towards the refugees in other European countries.
In Denmark, the national security and intelligence service PET warned last week that the increasing flow of refugees may provoke certain groups in the country to turn aggressive. Already Denmark has experienced few arson and vandalism attacks towards Muslim and asylum centers in recent weeks.
Sweden experienced an arson attack yesterday as a youth refugee shelter was set on fire during the night. No one was killed but some minors experienced breathing problems after inhaling smoke. The local media has also reported refugee children gone missing, which has risen a fear of human trafficking.
In the neighboring country Finland, a vandalism attack took place during last weekend. Windows were broken and Nazi signs painted on a housing for foreign students that was also accommodating refugee children.
Governments responding to the issue
The governments in Europe have generally condemnded all aggression towards the refugees very strongly. For example Germany’s Angela Merkel called the message of the violent groups ‘disgusting’. Finnish prime minister Juha Sipilä even publicly offered his own house to be used as an accommodation for the refugees and said how Finland closeting itself would be fatal for the nation.
At the same time many countries are also posing stricter boarder policies. This began last weekend as Germany started doing checks on its boarder with Austria. This week Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia have introduced control on their boarders as well. Denmark on the other hand removed boarder control last week to allow the many refugees that are heading to Sweden to pass freely.