America was not the only country to experience violence during Ramadan when 49 lives were lost at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Earlier this month in Germany, a further 180 lives were seriously endangered due to a Ramadan-related dispute.
In a relatively unknown incident in Dusseldorf, the state capital of North Rhineland-Westphalia, a warehouse belonging to that city’s exhibition complex was deliberately set on fire. At the time of the blaze, the building was serving as a hostel for recently-arrived, mostly male migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, Iran and Afghanistan.
The act of arson resulted from problems between Muslim residents concerning the observance of Ramadan. Two men from North Africa, a Moroccan and an Algerian, both aged 26, were subsequently arrested. They are suspected of having poured an accelerant on a mattress before torching it, setting off a blaze that completely destroyed the facility.
One version has it that the dispute was over meals.
“During this time of Ramadan, there was one group that wanted to strictly observe the fast, and another insisted on the usual timetables and usual servings,” said a spokesman for the German prosecutor’s office.
Britain’s The Daily Mail added: “They said Muslims who weren’t observing dawn-to-dusk fasting during Ramadan had complained about what they said was a small lunch.”
In another version, the Koelner (Cologne) Express claimed there was ongoing friction between Arabs on the one hand and Iranians and Afghans on the other that may have led to the arson attack. Tensions, it appears, had been building for some time and only worsened with the onset of Ramadan. Fights between them were “almost the order of the day.” Police had been called to the hostel 89 times this year, indicating its troubled state.
The fact that the hostel’s security personnel were mostly Iranian also, apparently, did not help the situation.
“According to one refugee from Morocco,” reports the Express, “they (the Iranians) deliberately did not wake up the Arabs yesterday morning for Ramadan breakfast. After that, the plan to commit arson was formed.”
Fortunately, as giant columns of smoke spiralled hundreds of meters into the air, visible for miles around, the 180 residents present in the hostel could be safely evacuated. Twenty-eight people, however, suffered smoke inhalation. It was also fortunate the fire occurred during the daytime when a further 100 residents were away at language courses and everyone was awake.
Dusseldorf’s exhibition center is a city landmark. It holds many conferences and trade fairs every year. The major exhibition halls, however, were not touched by the fire.
The pretty, Rhineland city seems to lead a charmed existence where Islamic violence and terrorism is concerned. In another, much under-reported occurrence, an ISIS-ordered, Mumbai–style massacre was prevented from taking place on the streets of its famous entertainment district, called the Altstadt (Old City) when three jihadists were arrested at the beginning of June.
The Dusseldorf Altstadt advertises itself as the “longest bar counter in the world,” where crowds of people, both native Germans and visitors, throng every evening to lightheartedly walk its car-free streets and drink the celebrated dark beer the city is known for.
But instead of beer, four jihadists, three of whom were apparently “Syrian refugees,” were intending to have these streets run with blood. Armed with Kalashnikovs, explosive devices and suicide vests, the four death cultists were going to take their own far-from-carefree stroll through this oldest quarter of the city, once home to its most famous native son, German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, gunning down whomever they came across and setting off suicide vests.
And like Mumbai and Paris, the death toll would have been horrendous. It is only because one of the terrorists backed out and informed French police of the plot that another huge, terrorist bloodletting was averted. Authorities built a case for months against the three jihadist-killers before arresting them, thus preventing Dusseldorf’s name from joining a lengthening list of unfortunate cities whose recent additions include Orlando, Paris and Brussels.
In another case, four jihadists were sentenced in a Dusseldorf court in 2014 for plotting to kill as many Germans as possible with ‘splitterbomben’ (anti-personnel bombs) in carefully prepared attacks. Three of the four were Dusseldorf residents, living in an apartment near the University of Dusseldorf. Called the “Dusseldorf cell,” they were all German citizens of Muslim background.
Bin Laden himself appears to have personally approved the ‘splitterbomben’ plot. The cell’s leader was the highest-ranking al-Qaeda operative ever put on trial in Germany. He had once emailed the al-Qaeda leadership: “Oh, our sheikh, we shall keep our promise. We shall start the slaughtering of the dogs.”
After reading such a bloodthirsty statement, it is no wonder Germans became angry at the light sentences the court handed out to the four terrorists, considering the homicidal carnage they intended to inflict. The cell leader, a native of Morocco, received the longest jail term of only nine years, while the shortest sentence was a risible four. This kid-glove treatment of violent criminals and terrorists has resulted in Germans cynically nicknaming their justice system ‘Kuscheljustiz’ (‘cuddly justice’).
Dusseldorfers also dodged a bullet, literally, in 2002 when four jihadists, three from Jordan and an Algerian, were arrested for plotting to attack one of the city’s Jewish-owned bars where members of the Jewish community were known to gather. The terrorists also intended to attack Berlin’s Jewish Museum, foretelling the Brussel’s Jewish Museum attack in May, 2014 that saw four killed.
Germany’s ‘Kuscheljustiz’ also did not fail to disappoint law-abiding Germans in this case as well. The four terrorists received sentences ranging from only five to eight years. But the judge did criticise “Germany’s immigration authorities for allowing the men into the country.” Two had provided false information to gain entrance and, once in Germany, all had “lived off social security.” (One wonders what this judge would say today after 1.1 million, mainly young, Muslim men have been allowed into Germany, unscreened, in less than a year.)
But the hostel fire, while different from the above-mentioned terrorist plots, represents a possibly bigger, future danger for Germany.
Bedsides importing the Middle East’s Sunni-Shiite conflict into Germany, the question is how are Muslims like those in the Dusseldorf hostel going to get along with Germans and other non-Muslims once out in German society, if they can’t even get along with each other?
The answer is that they won’t be able to. It is evident that these men come from a culture of violence that is completely incompatible with Western European societal and behavioural norms. Especially concerning women, as Germany’s rising rape statistics attest to. Cologne was only the beginning.
And coming from women-hostile cultures, where violence is acceptable, many cannot be integrated into Western society, despite liberal claims.
The Dusseldorf hostel fire could also mark a disturbing beginning in its own way. When tens of thousands of these young men do not have their expectations met in Germany, do not get what they want, what they came for, namely, a nice apartment, expensive car and a good job, and become frustrated with living in migrant hostels for months on end, one can expect them to act out in the only way they know how: with violence.
So Germans had better get used to the sight of more towering columns of smoke hovering over their once peaceful cities. Burning buildings may eventually come to symbolize the Germany of the new, migrant age.