Germany’s anti-immigrant party led a populist chorus from around Europe in pinning the blame for the Berlin truck attack on the policies of Angela Merkel. The Chancellor's acceptance of more than a million Middle Eastern refugees last year set the scene for an Islamist massacre on German soil, Alternative for Germany (AfD) claimed.
“The milieu in which such acts can flourish has been negligently and systematically imported over the past year and a half,” Frauke Petry, the party’s co-leader, said.
Marcus Pretzell, a senior AfD MEP, tweeted: “When will the German state of law strike back? When will this cursed hypocrisy finally stop? These are Merkel’s dead!”
He accused the German media of refusing to report the massacre as an act of terrorism.
Ms Petry, whose party has attracted widespread support since it turned two years ago from fighting the Euro to opposing immigration, accused Angela Merkel and the German establishment of shirking their duty to tell the country that Germany was no longer safe from jihadist terrorists. She demanded “control over our territory, no ifs and buts”.
Although the Christian Democrat leader remains popular, discontent over the wave of immigration has strengthened her opponents before general elections expected next autumn. Merkel’s Bavarian allies, the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), have been opposing her over immigration.
Horst Seehofer, the CSU leader, said: “We owe it to the victims, those affected and the entire population to re-examine and readjust our entire immigration and security policies.”
Outside Germany, from Russia to the Netherlands, right-wing parties blamed Merkel. In France, which has suffered 240 deaths in Islamist attacks in two years, the far-right National Front lost no time in blaming the chancellor’s acceptance of mass immigration.
Marine Le Pen, the party leader, wondered “how many massacres and deaths will be necessary before our governments stop bringing a considerable number of migrants into our countries?”
She called for the immediate restoration of national borders and a halt to the dispersal of migrants to hostels across France. Paris and Berlin should work with Moscow and the incoming Trump administration in Washington to form a strategic alliance against Islamist terrorism, she said.
Referring to the German chancellor, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the Front leader’s niece and emerging rival, tweeted: “She is responsible.” Nicolas Bey, a member of the Front leadership, said that Merkel had “admitted time bombs into her country”.
German media criticized the AfD and the European right for leaping to conclusions about the Berlin attacks. The Spiegel website called for calm. “Whoever exploits the situation, like the cynics at the AfD ... is doing the work of terrorists. They want to divide us ... and provoke a cultural war. Their hate is aimed at creating new hate,” it said.