With Germany’s largest state by population, North Rhine Westphalia, facing a soaring rise in knife attacks, the government is facing pressure to respond to the threat. On Friday, the government debated the issue in state parliament at the request of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) parliamentary group.
However, neither the SPD nor the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Interior Minister Herbert Reul were enthusiastic about naming who was behind the vast majority of attacks, with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) instead seizing the opportunity.
Instead, the SPD deputy Andreas Bialas referred to “socially marginalized persons,” who he said require an increase in the number of police “contact officers.” He did not explain what these contact officers are responsible for doing, but it is known that contract officers in North Rhine Westphalia are in charge of ensuring communication and relations between police stations and local Islamic communities.
The debate was entitled “Deadly dangers from knife attacks – what further measures will the state government take?” According to German newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten, the topic was the subject of a Q&A session that began with a speech from Bialas, who listed the variety of bloody knife attacks that happened just the weekend before.
“An unprecedented, incomprehensible trail of blood runs through the country,” he said, speaking of “knife madness” and “rapidly increasing” knife attacks.
“Citizens want answers,” he stated. “We can’t have another bloody weekend like this.”
North Rhine Westphalia is not the only area of Germany featuring soaring knife attacks. The country is plagued with dozens nearly every day, with the attacks happening so frequently that they pop into the headlines and then quickly fade away. Just a few days ago, a man stabbed two children in Berlin directly on a school playground in the middle of the day, nearly killing both of them.
The SPD offered a variety of solutions to the “knife madness,” calling for no-weapon zones, bans on knives in public places, and increased monitoring. When asked about who was behind these attacks, Bialas held back, saying they were “socially marginalized persons.”
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The SPD opened itself up to mockery over calling for the debate given its open border policy, which is the main factor behind soaring knife crime. As Remix News previously reported, crimes involving rape, murder and assault jumped in North Rhine Westphalia in 2022, with the data showing that, for example, 48.1 percent of serious sexual assaults are committed by non-Germans. The category of “murder and manslaughter” also saw a 23.4 percent rise, resulting in 380 cases. In Germany overall, an average of 50 knife attacks are reported every day.
“That the SPD, of all parties, has discovered the topic of knife attacks is not without a certain irony,” mocked CDU member of parliament Gregor Golland in response. “That is close to populism. In which ranks do you actually want to fish here?”
Golland conceded that every knife attack “is of course one too many.” However, he defended the measures taken by the state government. “We will continue our successful and consistent zero-tolerance policy.”
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Marc Lürbke, the spokesman for the domestic policy of the Free Democrats (FDP) parliamentary group, cast doubts on the CDU claims, pointing to the 4,191 knife attacks per year in the state.
“That’s 12 per day,” he said. “The number is an indictment in itself.” He called no-weapon zones a “helpless attempt” to counter knife crime.
Lürbke called for a “prevention offensive” in schools “and yes, also in shelters for refugees.” He also called for swift punishments for people found with a knife.
“Anyone carrying knives in NRW on the weekend will have to sit before a judge on Monday.” According to the FDP politician, “severe fines of several hundred euros” would also be appropriate.
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After Lürbke’s speech, AfD parliamentary group’s spokesman on domestic policy, Markus Wagner, addressed the large share of non-German nationals as well as asylum seekers in knife attacks:
“It’s often the same pattern; a refugee without the right to stay, living on welfare,” he said.
Wagner then criticized non-transparent police reports, which mostly conceal the nationality of the suspects in knife attacks.
He noted that state Interior Minister Reul, as well as police unions, had also agreed to the demand that the origin of such crime suspects be declared.
The AfD politician also criticized public media, which in this context would always speak only of “men” or “groups of men.”
“Objective reporting is different.”