Berlin has seen a forth night of arson attacks on it’s luxury cars, reports The Local.The attacks have been a regular feature of life in the German capital for some time, yet the latest round of attacks and their newfound intensity has everyone asking: who is behind this, and why can’t the police catch them?
Even Angela Merkel has began to talk about the attacks, telling reporters on Thursday that “Human lives are being put at risk in a cold-blooded way.”
Der Spiegel notes that the attacks are easy to get away with. Berlin has over 1 million cars, and the tools for the attacks — fire lighting fluid, sprayed on tires set alight — impossible to control or even track.
For some, the attacks bring to mind the attacks of the 1970s leftist Red Army Faction (RAF). “The RAF terror also began with ‘only’ arson at on point,” Wolfgang Bosbach of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union told the N24 television station on Thursday.
However, others note that Berlin’s far left groups seem to be disapproving of the attacks.
“The extreme left scene is not behind these actions, and has declared themselves not in agreement with them,” said police president Margarete Koppers. “These actions are rather frowned upon. They also have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. There is no serious political aim cannot be determined.”
Importantly, the opportunistic nature of the attacks — which now seem to be targeting cheaper cars as well — seems to suggest less a coordinated attack and more a spontaneous announcement of vague (yet strong) dissatisfaction.
Why would people be dissatisfied in Berlin, a notoriously cheap, fun, and creative city? Perhaps not everyone is enjoying Berlin’s newfound position as hipster paradise, writes the left-leaning Die Tageszeitung (via Der Spiegel):
“The enthusiasm about Berlin as the capital of alternative culture has never been as great as it is these days. EasyJet tourism is booming, as is the real estate market — prices may be rising in Berlin, but beer and apartments are still relatively cheap. And everything is so peaceful here. You can walk around Berlin in relative safety at any hour of the day, much more so than in almost any other big city.”
“But not everyone is equally delighted by the fact that the global middle class has discovered Berlin. Many long-term Berlin residents are feeling uneasy. They wonder how long they will be able to afford to live in their neighborhoods. Wages in Berlin are indeed low. Nowadays people complain about the tourists as much as they do about the lousy weather. And now more and more cars are burning at night. Is there a connection between the tourism fatigue of long-term residents, the rising rents and the nightly arson attacks? Are things getting dangerous in the party capital?”