If An Islamist Had Stabbed Cologne Mayor, Germany Would Have Been Furious

Election posters of independent candidate for the mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker stand behind a police barrier in Cologne,
Election posters of independent candidate for the mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker stand behind a police barrier in Cologne, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Reker was wounded in a stabbing at this site as she campaigned on Saturday, a day before an election in the western German city. (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP)

On Saturday, there was an attempted political assassination in Germany-- the worst in decades.

A man affiliated with the extreme right-wing allegedly stabbed Henriette Reker, an independent candidate in the Cologne mayoral elections, in the neck, severely injuring her. On Sunday, she was elected mayor of Cologne.

The alleged attacker confessed to having "xenophobic sentiments," according to German police. He has been detained on attempted murder charges.

The people of Cologne are still in disbelief over what happened. Meanwhile, outside of North Rhine-Westphalia, nobody seems to be talking about this attempted assassination.

In Germany, soccer seems to be more important than dealing with the greatest danger facing democracy at the current moment. By Saturday evening, major news magazine Spiegel Online believed that its coverage of the FIFA World Cup was more pressing. And on Saturday afternoon, Bild, a key German newspaper, reserved their headlines for Bundesliga coverage.

But this isn't new.

For decades, Germany has been slow to react to acts of terrorism from the far-right scene. The details of the Oktoberfest bombing of 1980 remain hidden. The National Socialist Underground (NSU) murders have long been played down as a deadly feud among immigrant families.

In short, far-right terrorism has been played down for decades.

That's not to mention the attacks on refugee centers. There have been approximately 500 attacks on refugee centers this year; nearly triple the number of attacks in 2014. Is it really that hard for us to imagine that there could be a terrorist movement behind it with the goal to undermine peace in our country?

A simple thought experiment shows how absurd our attitude towards right-wing extremism is: Imagine, for a moment, that Henriette Reker had been stabbed by an Islamist rather than by a far-right extremist.

It would have dominated the coverage on German TV. The attack would have gone down in history as the 'German 9/11'. And nobody would have rushed to describe it as a mad fluke. If an Islamist had stabbed Reker, the public would have been raging.

And it would have been Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer's finest hour. And it would have also been a big moment for the conservative AFD party. The xenophobic PEGIDA movement and the AFD party have, in the past few weeks, done their best to foment hateful discourse. Islamic communities would have been in danger of being stigmatized in public discourse.

Unlike in terror attacks from the far-right, the state would have immediately started to chase the attacker.

Security agencies tend to only work with full force if terror attacks come from the far-left or from Islamists. Officials tend to turn a blind eye when the crimes are committed by right-wing extremists-- at least, that's the impression you get from looking at how the NSU murders have been handled.

Only 10 percent of the arson attacks on refugee centers have been solved. And the police haven't even identified the people responsible for the hand-made gallows "reserved" for Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel in Dresden. This is shameful.

At the end of the day, all German Muslims would have probably suffered from an inflamed climate if the Cologne assassin had been an Islamist.

But it only was an extremist from the far-right. Not a stranger. One of us.

This should be serious cause for concern.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany and was translated into English.

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