As a lacuna in today’s Christmas cheer, consider this article from Sezession about the ascendancy of Lebanese and Kurdish criminal gangs in parts of Germany. The criminal “youths” are able to act with near impunity, with the police and society at large almost helpless in the face of their violent criminality.
Many thanks to Hermes for the translation:
Germany: a “society of prey” — Kurdish-Lebanese clans and the helplessness of the constitutional state
While the federal government and the opposition in the Bundestag adamantly regard immigration as an indispensable contribution to Germany, the intensity of the conflicts between some groups of immigrants and German society is steadily increasing.
One example of this are many social problems caused by members of Kurdish-Lebanese clans in Berlin, Bremen, and Essen, cities which according to declarations from judicial authorities are out of control. As a consequence, the state and the society may face helplessly phenomena associated with this, such as violence and crime.
Regarding Lebanese clans, hierarchically organized groups meet strong ethnic self-awareness and a strong family cohesion which is supported by a large number of young men ready to fight a modern society composed of small families and with liberal institutions that can hardly assert themselves when facing this challenge.
An employee of the LKA Berlin had already pointed out the problem in detail in 2002. The Berlin youth court Judge Kirsten Heisig accused the Lebanese clans of “unrestrained degradation of society”, while the Berlin chief public prosecutor Roman Reusch warned in connection with them of “civil war-like conditions” in the city. An anonymous crime investigator mentioned that this group considers Germans to be “a society to be looted, both as born victims and losers,” and the sociologist Ralph Ghadban sees their behavior as a “threat to social peace.” A confidential report of the Conference of Interior Ministers stated several years ago that any attempt of integration regarding this group had failed and that the dismantling of these criminal structures with a corresponding ethnic background would be possible in the best of cases “only in certain areas”. The chairman of the Police Federation in Berlin, Eberhard Schönberg, spoke in this regard about “the state’s complete loss of authority”.
The police often meet aggressive groups of men while patrolling the streets, men who are part of families in which ten children per woman is not a rarity, who are available in large numbers and can be quickly mobilized because of an unemployment rate of 90% and the culturally-conditioned tendency of men from these groups to remain in the streets all the time. The police must more and more frequently retreat and even traffic stops against members of these families can be made only with extra police presence.
According to the Commissioner for Integration of Neukölln, the male members of the Lebanese clans are generally prone to a special level of aggressiveness. The children in these families increasingly realize that no German can be in a position to set limits for them. The mere mention of their family name would be enough to force others to give them money and other goods. An admonition in the school or a mere criticism of a neighbor is seen as an attack against the collective honor of the community, to which one is ready to respond with violence. Individual members of a clan can always count on the support of many male relatives. For example, in March 2012, when the German Sven N. fatally injured a Lebanese in Neukölln in self-defense, he had to leave the district after receiving threats from the Lebanese clan. The attacker who died was, however, considered by many of his relatives as well as by Arabs and Turks in Berlin as a martyr and buried in a ceremony in which several thousand Muslims were present.
At their main centers in Berlin and Bremen, members of these clans appear as a group strongly prone to criminal activities. According to the central police department in Bremen, 1000 out of the approximately 2,600 Lebanese in Bremen (mostly men) are registered as suspects of having committed crimes. The statistical result is that almost every male Lebanese in Bremen was at least once a potential subject of a legal proceeding. In Berlin, the crime rate among Lebanese youth in cases of aggravated robbery is about 16 times higher than among ethnic Germans. The overall incarceration rate is 14 times higher than the average of the male population in the same age. Even amongst heavy offenders, Lebanese are strongly overrepresented. The former Berlin Attorney Roman Reusch spoke of “proper training for professional criminal activities” in some Lebanese clans. Police sources reported similar information. Male family members would often begin committing crimes as early as elementary school age. Imprisonment would be understood in their environment as a kind of an initiation rite.
Hostility to Germans is extremely blatant among many members of the Lebanese clans, who according to a report from the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “despise everything that is not part of their culture, first and foremost the Germans.” According to information from the media, an internal report made by the Berlin police described the situation of the Germans in places with strong Lebanese presence as follows:
“For German youths residing in districts that are dominated by ethnic gangs, the situation, according to the criminal police experts, has already become dramatic. Their withdrawal with defensive behavior was perceived as weakness, which meant a loss of honor — and also danger: The number of German teenagers being beat up or robbed because they were an easy target was significant in ethnically dominated conflict-ridden neighborhoods”.
The Integration Commissioner of Neukölln reported a typical case of intimidation by a Lebanese family:
“Not long ago Arnold Mengelkoch received a phone call from a couple. They lived in a rented house in which one of the infamous Kurdish-Lebanese families also lived. They said they would not reveal their names out of fear, but that they were being harassed on the sidewalk by the youngsters from that family. ‘We wanted to go out with our bicycles, but they did not move theirs away, so we picked them up and put them to one side. Then the youngsters jumped up and spat at us, kicked, insulted, threatened us saying “We know where you live!”‘ — Because they live in the same house. And they trembled, and they said they did not want to file a complaint and reveal their names in the document, because then the family would turn rabidly against them. Things cannot go this way; this is not a lawless place, and those families have to stop this!”
The mayor of the district of Neukölln, Heinz Buschkowsky, had in this context pointed to different cultural conditions that hinder self-assertion on the German side:
“The enemy is the hated Germans, they are the target of their aggression, and they have nothing to counter the flash mob which gathers in a few minutes via a circulated SMS, a group of people who immediately display a threatening attitude. Germans are considered easy prey… We raise our children to be non-violent. We reject violence at these encounters and teach this attitude to our children. Others teach their boys to be strong, brave and ready to fight. The starting situation is simply not equal.”
Government employees are being increasingly threatened and intimidated, too, and therefore they avoid conflicts with the clans. There were also examples reported in Bremen in which the police no longer investigated complaints made by Germans in cases involving Lebanese clans. Judges and prosecutors who are involved in cases against them are under police protection due to threats from members of those Lebanese clans. The Berlin youth court Judge Kirsten Heisig said she had been threatened by a clan after she sentenced some of its members to prison. Shortly afterwards she committed suicide under circumstances that have not been fully clarified. According to the head of the department of Organized Crime in the Berlin public prosecutor’ office, it is possible for the clans to “clearly exercise any kind of influence on evidence” due to their capacity to threaten. Video recordings document the disproportionate behavior of Lebanese against legal personnel, who do not dare to oppose them. A judge allowed herself to be insulted in court for nine minutes without even daring to contradict the accused person. Many Lebanese criminals receive remarkably mild punishments, and if they have to go to prison, they enjoy privileges and continue their illegal activities from behind bars, while acquittals are hailed as victories over the German state.
Wherever measures are taken against crimes committed by the Lebanese clan, the court and the authorities often face a lost cause and are left in the lurch by official policy. The former Berlin chief public prosecutor Roman Reusch was removed from his post by the Senator for Justice after he publicly called for stronger action. Instead of fighting Lebanese gangs, the policies are aimed apparently at involving their members more intensively in police activities: The senator for integration in Berlin called on immigrant youngsters to promote these policies inside their gangs. A CDU member of parliament was also demonstratively in proximity with a prominent person associated with criminal Lebanese gangs.
Being under pressure from all sides as they are, the police cannot even count on the support of large parts of society. Pro-immigration activists either deny the problems exist, or judge Germans to be responsible for them and mention the phenomena described by the police as “criminalization of minorities” and “institutional racism”, while associations of immigrants manifest themselves similarly and demand a “de-nazification” of the police and less “racist” pressure on suspects with an immigrant background. Social workers often see themselves as opponents of the police in any case. Meanwhile, leftists try to mobilize Arab youngsters as allies against the police, and the liberal journalist Malte Lehming explained the problems as an expression of social progress and said of Lebanese and other youth gangs:
“They are young, brave, mobile, hungry, willing to take risks, initiative. The country needs such people.”
Viable solutions are not in sight, and a further escalation of conflicts is to be expected, since the number of Lebanese is growing rapidly and the next generation is less well-integrated than that of their parents.
According to the police in Bremen, well-integrated Lebanese from important clans are an “absolute exception”. It is too late for deportation, as most of the younger Lebanese have German citizenship. Sooner or later, the observed development of the situation will therefore reach a point where the constitutional state must either take decisive action or make the embarrassing admission that it has failed.