Monday, April 16, 2018

No-Go Myths in Germany

A poll found that just a little over half of Germans believe there are neighborhoods in the country so dangerous that even police fear to tread there.

The somewhat dubious concept of lawless areas in Germany has been promoted in no small part by disproportionate reporting of crimes committed by migrants and foreigners in popular media.

Statistics published biannually by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) paint a different picture. According to the BKA, foreigners are less likely than native-born Germans to commit every category of crime. The BKA's latest report from January 2018 further clarifies that the majority of the crimes committed by foreigners are things such as riding public transport without a ticket and petty theft.

These facts have not stopped some lawmakers, including Health Minister Jens Spahn, from promoting the idea that there are "neighborhoods in Essen, Duisburg and Berlin where you get the impression that the state is no longer willing or able to enforce the law there."

A visit to one of the most notorious of these "no-go" areas, a neighborhood called Marxloh in the rust-belt city of Duisburg, reveals that there wasn't much to substantiate the media hype. Indeed, Marxloh is like many neighborhoods in many German cities — a little run-down, with some visible unemployment. However, on the whole, Duisburg, known for its relatively high rate of foreign residents, actually has a lower crime rate than nearby Aachen, which is known as a quiet, quaint university town.

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