Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged there was “a high degree of tension and uncertainty” in Europe’s migrant debate on Thursday, a day after thousands of pro- and anti-immigrant demonstrators turned out in support of the Ulm mosque.
In a televised address, Merkel acknowledged that the influx of migrants into Germany in the past few years had created a situation “of high drama.”
That was, in part, because of the changed role of immigration as a political issue in Europe and in Germany as well, she said.
“Whose voice should matter most in this highly dramatic situation? An entirely isolated individual with a distinct identity or a diffuse international process, with all its internalized fractures and contradictions?”
Merkel added: “Where does public debate end and” individual rights begin? “These questions require long reflection.”
Under pressure from her coalition partners, the Christian Social Union, a right-wing party, and the Social Democrats, the chancellor announced that she would not be submitting to emergency legislation that would tighten rules that allow citizens of third countries to travel to Germany without visas, in order to avoid a domestic crisis.
In the speech, Merkel also paid tribute to the courage of the German police and first responders at the Muslim center in Ulm. She pointed out that the mosque was outside the historic Jewish quarters of the town.
Germany’s most famous Jewish museum, meanwhile, was attacked on Thursday by a graffiti artist. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that “ a new painting had been defaced with a swastika and ‘AF!,’ [an anti-Semitic slur] and the words ‘F–k Zionists,’ ” with five square centimeters (about one-sixth of an inch) of anti-Semitic text remaining in the work.