Germany’s Merkel stands by refugee policy despite ‘terrifying’ attacks

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Many Germans no longer want migrants in their country
02:19 - Source: CNN

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Merkel defends Germany's decision to accept 1 million refugees in 2015

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CNN  — 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday described recent attacks in the country and across Europe as “shocking, depressing and terrifying,” but she refused to back down from an open-door refugee policy that has attracted fierce criticism following recent assaults in the country.

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Germany has been rattled by four attacks in the past two weeks, three of which authorities say have been carried out by asylum seekers or refugees inspired by Islamist extremism.

The attacks have given way to mockery by some Germans as well as foreigners, who have dubbed the recent weeks of bloodshed on social media as #MerkelSommer, or even “Merkel’s summer of slaughter.”

One Twitter user posted a pair of hands covered in blood, quoting Merkel with, “We have already accomplished a lot,” using the #MerkelSommer hashtag.

Merkel vowed to boost security and improve counterterrorism measures, but she stood firm on Germany’s position of accepting nearly all asylum seekers found to be legitimate refugees. Germany took in more than 1 million refugees in 2015, making it the most open country in Europe to asylum seekers.

“We decided to fulfill our humanitarian tasks,” she told reporters at a news conference, according to a translator. “Refusing humanitarian support, that would be something I wouldn’t want to do and I wouldn’t recommend this to Germany.”

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She said that terrorists wanted Germany to “lose our view for what’s important to us.”

An asylum seeker takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the leader's visit to refugee registration centre in Berlin on September 10, 2015.

“They want to divide our unity, our cooperation, they want to harm our life,” she said. “They want to prevent our openness to welcoming people. They spread hate between cultures and also among religions.”

‘Anxiety and fear’

Merkel added, “We are being tested in the way we live. Our understanding of freedom and security is being tested.”

But she said that Germany had faced such challenges before, repeating the phrase “We can do it” several times.

“Anxiety and fear can’t advise our political decisions,” she said.