President Trump claimed in a tweet Monday morning that “crime in Germany is way up,” ignoring statistics that prove the crime rate there has actually reached a historic low.
The president also claimed that migration was causing Germans to turn against their leaders, and that millions of asylum-seekers from Africa and the Middle East had “strongly and violently changed” Europe’s culture.
“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” he tweeted. “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!”
The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
Like so many of the president’s tweets, Monday’s claim was both misleading and factually inaccurate.
Crime in Germany is not way up. Official figures from last month show that the national crime rate fell 5 percent since last year in Germany, dropping to the lowest levels since 1992. The number of crimes committed by non-German individuals fell 23 percent. The one area of crime which saw a 2.5 percent increase was antisemitic attacks — with 94 percent of them committed by far-right German nationals.
The whole issue stems from a political conflict in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government decided in 2015 to allow over 1 million refugees from the Middle East and Africa to enter Germany. The decision sparked some opposition, most recently in the form of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s open challenge to the policy, and a public poll showing 62 percent of Germans want to turn away asylum-seekers at the border.
Seehofer himself announced the new low crime rate last month, concluding, “Germany has become safer.”
German public opinion is a lot more muddled on this issue than that recent poll may suggest, with about as many supporting and opposing the current immigration policy, and a “conflicted middle” which generally supports allowing asylum-seekers in, but disagrees about how that can be implemented and how long immigrants should be allowed to stay. The new crime figures released in May revealed a small ray of hope, however, with attacks on refugee shelters down 69 percent.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Trump — who has famously called some immigrants seeking to enter the United States “animals” on several occasions — has been fighting criticism of his administration’s policy of separating parent and child asylum-seekers at the U.S. border, attempting to blame Democrats for the practice. He has regularly claimed — also inaccurately — that immigrants increase crime rates in the United States.
Similar to the baseless claim he made back in March regarding an immigrant-involved “incident last night in Sweden” — which later turned out to be imaginary — Trump’s tweet on Monday was almost certainly based on something he heard in a Fox News segment.
In a Fox & Friends segment earlier Monday morning, Tom Rogan, a Washington Examiner columnist who has written about the German political power-struggle, portrayed the conflict as a do-or-die fight between Merkel and the people of Germany. Host Brian Kilmeade reiterated Rogan’s claim himself, saying, “Again, this is about a politician who thinks they they know more than the people.”
Rogan elaborated on his claim more, saying that Merkel’s stance was not reflective of the wider German population. “I do think it is important to emphasize here that in the demographics in terms of the German population, which is more center-left than the United States electorate, for example, this widespread concern about migration and the levels of migration is really apart from the left-wing parties in Germany, across the board from the center to the right,” he said. “Chancellor Merkel is out on a fringe in terms of her own position with conservatives.”
“You also bring up too that people have responded in Europe, in Austria, for example, they elected an anti-immigrant candidate. Italy, the same thing,” Kilmeade added, in response. “They are reflecting what the people want and that is not anti-immigrant but pro- their citizens first.”
Rogan made a comparison between the far-right anti-immigrant movements in Europe and the election of Donald Trump. “Now the whirlwind is coming home to reap its hard rendering,” he concluded.
Kilmeade finished the interview by noting that “most of the 1.6 million migrants since 2015 that poured into the Germany, from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.” He said the EU “has a say in that” and asked Rogan when the world will knows if “the people of Bavaria will speak up and change course maybe for the country?”
Rogan estimated it would be within the next week, when “either Merkel accepts the interior minister position or she fires him and the coalition enters a crisis mode.”
On Monday, the AP reported an hour after Trump’s tweet that Merkel and Seehofer’s allies had unanimously decided to allow Merkel several weeks to find a broader solution with the rest of the European Union.