Berlin (CNSNews.com) – Migrants in Germany committed, or tried to commit, some 69,000 crimes in the first quarter of 2016, Reuters has reported, citing a leaked report by the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA).
The findings could strengthen opposition towards Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migrant policy, and provide further support to anti-immigrant groups such as the controversial Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party.
According to the report, 29.2 percent of the crimes were thefts, 28.3 percent were property or forgery offences, and 23 percent were violent offences such as robbery. Drug-related offences constituted 6.6 percent, with sex-related crimes at 1.1 percent.
The report did not state what percentage the 69,000 figure represented of the total number of crimes. And as it’s the first time the BKA has published a nationwide report on crimes committed by migrants, there is no comparable data for the same period in previous years.
The BKA report did say that the number of crimes committed by migrants declined by over 18 percent between January and March.
Given the relative size of different migrant communities, the report said migrants from North Africa, Georgia and Serbia were disproportionately represented among suspects.
Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans accounted for many of the suspects, although the numbers were not disproportionately high considering that they are also the three biggest groups among asylum-seekers in the country.
The federal agency conducted a study last year based on 2015 crime figures, hoping to dispel fears of mass immigration leading an increase in crime in Germany. When accounting for spikes due to factors such as overcrowding at refugee camps, that report found refugees to be only as prone to committing crimes as native Germans.
Nonetheless, the new figures could fuel the growing uncertainty towards Merkel’s open door refugee policy as the nation seeks to integrate last year’s record influx of more than one million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
They could also stir unease over terrorism, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) continues to call for more attacks in Europe. Last week, three Syrians who were posing as refugees were arrested for planning a terrorist attack on the western city of Düsseldorf.
The crime figures may also be used by anti-immigration groups such as the AfD and the anti-Islam group PEGIDA, both of which have been gaining traction in Germany.
The AfD party, now one of the nation’s fastest growing political parties, with members in half of the country’s state legislatures, called last May for a ban on mosque towers and headscarves at schools and universities.
Expressing concern over the party’s rise Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, invoked the Nazis.
“For the first time since World War II there is a party again attempting to existentially constrain an entire religious community and to threaten it,” she said. “This reminds us of the times of Hitler.”
The growing backlash against Merkel’s immigration policy may itself be contributing to overall crime figures. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said this week that 2015 saw the most dangerous level of politically-motivated violence by far-right groups since the government first began collecting data in 2001.
On Thursday the human rights group Amnesty International criticized German authorities over an increase in attacks against refugee shelters. It said there were 1,031 crimes against asylum shelters in 2015, compared to just 63 in 2013.
“With hate crimes on the rise in Germany, long-standing and well-documented shortcomings in the response of law enforcement agencies to racist violence must be addressed,” the group’s E.U. researcher, Marco Perolini, said in a statement.