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AP FACT CHECK: Trump is wrong about crime in Germany

June 18, 2018
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FILE - In this June 15, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

BERLIN (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump suggests crime in Germany is surging because of migration, causing a political backlash against the country’s leadership. But he’s wrong about Germany’s crime rate, which is at its lowest in a quarter century.

Trump tweeted Monday: “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

The underlying claim, that crime in Germany is “way up,” is false.

According to official crime statistics released last month, crime in Germany dropped nearly 10 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year. Police recorded a total number of 5.8 million crimes last year, compared with 6.4 million cases in 2016. It was the lowest figure since 1992.

“Germany is more secure,” the country’s top security official, Horst Seehofer, said after the figures came out. Yet “there’s still a lot to do.”

While violent crime declined, the number of homicides was up 3.2 percent last year. Several high-profile killings in which migrants were suspects made national headlines in recent years, even as others where the suspects were German received less attention.

Trump’s assertion that Germans are “turning against their leadership” because of concern about migration is partly true, however, at least if poll numbers are an indication.

Partially because of the publicity that crimes involving migrants has attracted, the public has grown more concerned about the influx of newcomers. That’s provided fuel for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, and helped it attract new voters at the expense of Germany’s two biggest parties: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc and the Social Democrats, which together form the country’s governing coalition.

AfD surged into third place in last year’s national election. A recent survey by the polling firm Forsa put support for the Union at 30 percent and the Social Democrats at 16 percent — just one point ahead of AfD’s 15 percent. The poll of 2,502 respondents conducted June 11-15 had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Merkel, who is now in her fourth term, still has an approval rating of 51 percent, according to the Forsa poll.

Trump’s cites no examples of how migrants have “strongly and violently” changed European culture, except to make his erroneous claim about crime in Germany.

Although there are noticeably more recent arrivals in the cities, there’s little sign of German culture being eroded by the influx of more than 1 million asylum seekers since 2015, primarily from Muslim countries.

Christmas markets remain popular fixtures all around the country during the winter, and attract people of all cultures and religion. The Muslim prohibition on pork and alcohol hasn’t dented the German appetite for bratwursts and beer either, judging from the huge crowds that pack the tents at Munich’s annual Oktoberfest beer festival and the extremely popular World Cup party packages of cheap pilsner and grill-ready wurst offered by discount grocery stores. And the common German pastime of sunbathing nude in public parks hasn’t caused any sort of an outcry from any religious conservatives.

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