While Germany sticks to its liberal views…

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Though only being four years old, Alternate for Germany party (AfD) dubbed by the German foreign minister Sigman Gabriel as ‘Real Nazis’, which is essentially anti-Islam and anti-Immigration has achieved access to the German parliament (Bundestag) riding on the wellspring of anger over the asylum issue by securing 13% of the vote cast, but the mainstream Germany remains stuck to humanitarian and liberal values by re-electing Angela Merkel for the fourth time. Her Social Democratic Union secured 33% of the votes, a decline of 9% as compared to 2013 elections. Similarly Social Democrats another major political force in the country witnessed decline in its vote count by securing 21% votes against 25.7% in 2013. The other political force to be reckoned with FDP has made a comeback to the Bundestag by obtaining nearly 11% votes. The combined erosion of 13% votes in the tally of CDU and SPD is supposed to have gone to the AfD because most of the other parties including Green and Left have remained static on their previous positions.

      This development happening for the first time after the World War-II when Germany opted for a total disconnect with the Nazi ideology, is being viewed by certain quarters as an alarming event because of the fissiparous and diabolical social consequences that such ideologies tend to create. But what is encouraging to note is that anti-Afd demonstrations have been held in several German cities creating a reassuring impression that the majority of the Germans have and would continue to remain wedded to the humanitarian causes and culture of tolerance.

      My personal assessment is that this party would not be able to make further dents into the mainstream political landscape of the country and its ideology of hate and xenophobia would not be able to survive the next elections. Their rise to the political podium owes much to the momentary wave of anger in the backdrop of horrendous acts of terrorism in the European countries and the asylum issue, which with the passage of time would ebb away and the party might not have real issues to agitate its cause. The political power invariably would remain with the major right-wing political parties that represent the liberal face of Germany.

      I have served in Germany as Press Counsellor in the Embassy of Pakistan for four years during 2000-2004 and on the basis of my personal experience and the study of German society, I honestly feel that Germany was the most tolerant and humanitarian society among all the European nations and it was destined to stay the course. Minor hic-ups like the AfD’s access to the Bundestag would not be able to shake the social and political edifice that has been erected after the World War-II. Nevertheless the German elections result have created a dilemma for Angela Merkel in finding coalition partners in view of SPD, her former ally opting to play the role of real opposition; a decision dictated by the need to revive the fortunes of the party.

      The rise of Islamophobia in the Western countries is surely a reaction to the burgeoning terrorism which has affected almost all the European countries, in which people belonging to the Muslim countries are involved and the phenomenon unfortunately was dubbed as Islamic terrorism, notwithstanding the fact that almost all the Muslim countries had dissociated themselves from the narrative of the terrorists and even the Imam of Kaaba ( the leader of prayers at the Holy Mosque at Mecca) had given the edict against acts of terrorism by terming them anti-Islamic. For countering this permeating impression it is incumbent upon the Muslim diaspora living the European countries to show solidarity with respective societies in quelling the scourge of terrorism as well as the Muslim countries to put up a resolute resistance against such elements and convey it to the world that they not only condemned terrorism in all its manifestation but were taking genuine and irrefutable steps to take the fight to the terrorists and free the world from its debilitating impact.

      They need to emulate the example of Pakistan, where its security forces are waging a relentless war against the terrorist outfits and the country has rendered unparalleled sacrifices in men and material to eliminate the menace. It has been able to dismantle the entire infrastructure of the terrorist entities in North Waziristan and a sustained campaign was being conducted throughout the length and breadth of the country to purge the society of the sympathisers and supporters of the terrorists through intelligence based operations. A national narrative is also being orchestrated to fight the ideology of the terrorists and diplomatic efforts have also been stepped up to win credibility for what Pakistan has done so far and was contemplating to do in the future.

      Nevertheless, the onus of dealing with terrorism does not entirely lie with the Muslim countries. The international community not only has to exhibit honest commitment to the fight against terrorism but also understand the phenomenon from the perspective of its root-causes and the need to remove those irritants. Threats, use of military might and coercion are the instruments that precipitate the hate syndrome and conflict. The world powers like USA and its allies need to revisit their approach in the light of the ground realities and humanitarian perspective. Any approach contrary to this strategy will have a boomerang effect.