The Church Jesus Built, German version

What Happens After Death?, German version

Is The Bible True?, German version

Heaven or Hell?, German version

Bible Prophecy, German version

German election campaigns tackle youth violence

January 25, 2008: A rash of violent incidents in recent months involving teens and young adults has become a hot campaign topic in the state election in Hessen and local elections in Munich. Voters in Hessen go to the polls on Sunday (January 27), and the local election in Munich will take place on March 2, 2008.

In one highly publicized incident caught on tape by a video surveillance camera just a couple of days before Christmas in a Munich subway station, a young Turk and his Greek accomplice mercilessly beat a 76 year old German, fracturing his skull in three places and nearly killing him. Foreign youth were involved in several other violent incidents as well, although political leaders have cautioned against portraying the youth violence problem as a foreign youth problem.

The Bavarian Christian Socialist Union party (CSU) attempted to capitalize CSU campaign poster on German fears arising from the spat of violent incidents by making the topic a campaign issue in Munich's local elections. The CSU produced a campaign poster with an image from the video clip showing the beating. Inside the whitened silhouette of the victim a quote reads: "So you won't be the next victim!" The theme of the poster is "What counts is Munich's security: No leniency for violent criminals". The CSU's main opponent in the Munich elections, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and some media representatives criticized the poster as being tasteless and promoting xenophobic fears among voters. Despite the controversy over the CSU campaign poster, the question of how to respond to youth violence is a concern for many Germans, and political parties are listening.

Suggestions for dealing with youth violence range from denying driving licenses to youthful offenders, establishing American-style education camps for troubled youngsters and expelling foreign youth who commit violent acts in Germany. Sending foreign youth home won't be as easy as some think, though, as Germans found out following the brutal Munich subway attack. One of the two youth involved is from Greece, a member of the EU. Since EU citizens have the freedom to reside anywhere within the EU, different rules apply for him.

The Munich subway attack became a gift for Hessen state governor Roland Koch, who immediately made the issue of youth violence his main campaign topic. Koch demands stricter laws for youthful offenders. Like the CSU in Munich, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member Koch has been criticized for running a xenophobic campaign, similar to one ten years ago when he opposed special residence and work permits for foreign computer experts. However, CDU leadership – including chancellor Angela Merkel – generally agrees with Koch's proposals.

The issue of youth violence involving foreigners may make some Germans think twice about the wisdom of admitting Turkey as a full member of the European Union. As the news media pointed out, expelling the other Munich subway attacker – a Turk – is considerably easier, since Turkey is currently not part of the EU. And Turks are by far the largest foreign minority living in Germany.


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