Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

France’s Emmanuel Macron blames state for fueling extremism, vows solutions — Wants to energize urban poor, end radicalization

November 15, 2017

The French president has announced a massive policy overhaul for the country’s poorest neighborhoods. Poor, urban suburbs have become breeding grounds for radicalization.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced his plan to overhaul France's poorest neighborhoods at Clichy-sous-Bois, a neighborhood which once erupted in violent protests against isolation and discriminationFrench President Emmanuel Macron announced his plan to overhaul France’s poorest neighborhoods at Clichy-sous-Bois, a neighborhood which once erupted in violent protests against isolation and discrimination

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday unveiled a series of new social and economic policies for the country’s poorest neighborhoods. Macron partly blamed the French state for contributing to the rise of homegrown extremism by abandoning low income areas.

In the suburbs of France’s biggest cities, including Paris, low-income neighborhoods dominated by housing projects have highlighted the state’s inability to integrate generations of migrants and stimulate economic livelihood.

Read more: EU introduces new measures to combat ‘low-tech’ terrorism

“In these neighborhoods we have closed schools, cut aid for the oldest and youngest, and other groups have arrived touting solutions for all of that,” Macron said, referring to ultra-conservative Islamic associations. “Radicalization took root because the state checked out.”

In 2005, the so-called “banlieue” of Clichy-sous-Bois on the outskirts of Paris became a focal point of the state’s public policy on discrimination and isolation when violent protests erupted in response to the death of two boys killed while fleeing police.

In 2005, violent protests against isolation and discrimination erupted in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, a banlieue marked by the French state's failure to meet the needs of the country's poorest neighborhoodsIn 2005, violent protests against isolation and discrimination erupted in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, a “banlieue” marked by the French state’s failure to meet the needs of the country’s poorest neighborhoods

Macron’s plans to tackle the root cause of social and economic isolation, include overhauling funding for public housing, expanding child care, improving public transport links and offering subsidies to companies that hire youth from targeted areas.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron — French savior or tormentor?

Reign of terror

France has witnessed several large-scale terrorist attacks over the past three years. In November 2015, sympathizers of the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group launched a series of attacks across Paris, leaving 130 people dead.

Earlier that year, al-Qaeda operatives staged an attack on the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, while another IS supporter drove a lorry into a crowd of revelers commemorating France’s Bastille Day in 2016, killing 86 people.

Read more: France takes anti-terror legislation to next level

According to Laurent Nunez, who heads France’s domestic intelligence agency, nearly 18,000 people in the country have been placed on radicalism watch lists – and that number is growing.


Opinion: Think it can’t get worse than Donald Trump? Think again

November 8, 2017

Donald Trump’s election win a year ago was a watershed moment. It showed an utterly incompetent politician can become president by appealing to voters’ base instincts. But he could be just a harbinger of things to come.

Donald Trump on election night (Getty Images/C. Somodevilla)

Even after saying and typing the words President Donald Trump hundreds or even thousands of times since his stunning presidential election victory one year ago, it still feels awkward. And that’s the way it should be. Because it still is hard to stomach that a rabble-rouser like Trump, with a penchant for routinely speaking falsehoods and no political experience, could win the presidency in the most powerful country in the world through a campaign based on bigotry, misogyny and fear-mongering.

But while it is important to resist the natural tendency to normalize the Trump presidency, it is equally important to fully accept the fact, as difficult as this may be, that Donald Trump did win the election and Hillary Clinton lost it. It is crucial to own up to that reality and not blame Russian meddling, actions by former FBI Director James Comey or other real or imagined interferences for Hillary Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s win. To look for scapegoats and employ a whataboutism-strategy, a Trump specialty, may be understandable to cushion the hard reality of what happened on November 8, 2016, but it would be counterproductive for trying to prevent a repeat.

A disenfranchised electorate

A key element in Trump’s campaign was his insistence that the country was in bad shape and his promise that he would “Make America Great Again.” This was a daringly negative theme to run a presidential campaign on, especially because Trump repeatedly described, often erroneously, how bad things were in the country. And of course he almost always blamed others, like immigrants or Muslims, for the country’s problems.

Michael KniggeMichael Knigge is DW’s correspondent in Washington

But his negative description of the status quo in the country resonated with many voters because it rang true. That Trump hit a nerve with his depiction of the US as a country on a downward spiral is underscored by the fact that Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist from the small state of Vermont, was able to win 23 states against Hillary Clinton on a campaign based solely on individual donations. While Sanders is certainly not comparable in style and substance and seriousness, he addressed many of the same issues as Trump that plague ordinary Americans, from income inequality to an aging and often decrepit American infrastructure.

But the core point both Trump and Sanders made repeatedly was that when it comes to the political game being played in Washington, the cards are stacked against ordinary Americans. And the sentiment that political and business elites are looking out only for themselves, while many Americans have a hard time making ends meet, resonated with voters a year ago. And it still does today.

The populist appeal

It should not be a surprise when, according to a survey from the US Federal Reserve from last year, 44 percent of Americans said they do not have enough money to cover a $400 (€345) emergency expense. It should not be a surprise when, on an average day, 32 Americans are killed by guns. It should not be a surprise when 64,000 Americans were killed in 2016 by an opioid epidemic that has been ravaging the country for years — a crisis politicians seem incapable or unwilling or address, like many other very basic issues.

Trump sensed and ruthlessly exploited the widespread feeling of an American malaise and positioned himself, boasting his supposed business acumen, as the sole candidate not beholden to party politics capable of improving people’s lives. His basic claim to make America “win again” was not only outlandish, he also had no plan or intention to do it.

Still, it is not unlikely that he would win again if another election were held today, or that he could win a second term in 2020. Never mind that nine months into office he has not been able to pass a single major legislative initiative, never mind that his administration is scandal-ridden like no other in recent memory, never mind that he has not improved Americans’ lives.

That he is able to get away with all of that shows that there is no credible alternative, not in the Republican Party, which Trump hijacked and is increasingly turning into his own, and more importantly in the Democratic Party, which is deeply divided about its future course. It also shows the desperation and anger many Americans feel that they cast their lot with someone who operates so far outside the country’s political norms.

A darker alternative

Having said all that, we may in fact be lucky we are stuck with Trump. Sure, during Trump’s disastrous first nine months he has already wreaked havoc on many issues, from environmental policy to international relations. But on many major matters, from the botched travel ban to the failed Obamacare repeal, Trump is running a chaotic and deeply dysfunctional administration.

And now imagine a future candidate who shared Trump’s rabble-rousing instincts, but was not as impulsive and nor as chaotic, and could actually execute his pernicious agenda. If both major parties don’t wake up to fulfill the basic functions expected from elected officials — namely to provide core government services  we could find out sooner than we think.

Austria far-right eyes power in ‘whizz-kid’ government

October 16, 2017


© AFP / by Nina LAMPARSKI and Simon STURDEE | Sebastian Kurz looks set to become the world’s youngest leader

VIENNA (AFP) – Austria’s far-right looked set Monday to return to power in a coalition with conservative “whizz-kid” Sebastian Kurz, the world’s youngest leader-in-waiting, in a fresh triumph for European populists.The expected rightward shift in the wealthy European Union member state will pose a fresh headache for Brussels as it struggles with Brexit and the rise of nationalists in Germany, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere.

The People’s Party (OeVP) — rebooted by Kurz as a more hardline “movement” — was projected to sweep up 31.7 percent of Sunday’s vote, with final results expected later this week.

In second place were the Social Democrats (SPOe) of incumbent Chancellor Christian Kern on 26.9 percent, closely followed by the eurosceptic Freedom Party (FPOe) on 26.0 percent.

Founded by ex-Nazis in the 1950s, the FPOe’s result is close to its all-time record of 26.8 percent in 1999 under then-leader Joerg Haider, and twice that of their allies the Alternative for Germany (AfD) last month.

Kurz, 31, forced the snap vote after becoming OeVP chief in May and ending the acrimonious decade-long coalition with the SPOe.

He attracted supporters in droves by depicting himself as a breath of fresh air, talking tough on immigration and vowing to slash taxes and red tape.

“With Kurz we have a new start for the country,” said Werner Schwab, 64, a gardener. “Although he is 31, he is an experienced, calm and disciplined person.”

– Far-right ‘normalisation’ –

Given his open dislike for Kern and adoption of far-right themes, Kurz’s most likely coalition partner is the populist FPOe of Heinz-Christian Strache, 48.

Media reports said the two parties were already engaged in intensive behind-the-scene negotiations.

The least likely possibility is a tie-up between the FPOe and the SPOe, whose campaign suffered a string of mishaps.

Kern warned Monday Austria had witnessed a “massive rightward shift”.

“We are open to talks… but there are enormous overlaps in the programmes of the OeVP and the FPOe,” Kern told public radio Oe 1.

“We will not betray our programme and our fundamental values.”

The OeVP and FPOe already shared power between 2000 and 2007, which turned Austria into a pariah.

But there would not be the same backlash now owing to what experts say is the “normalisation” of Europe’s far-right.

– More EU tensions –

In December, the FPOe almost won the presidency and topped opinion polls in the midst of Europe’s migrant crisis.

Like AfD, French National Front chief Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands — who both congratulated Strache on Twitter on Sunday — the FPOe has stoked concerns about a record influx of migrants into Europe.

But then Kurz came along and with his radical OeVP makeover stole some of Strache’s thunder.

As foreign minister, the rosy-cheeked Kurz claims credit for closing the Balkan migrant trail in 2016 that saw hundreds of thousands of refugees trek into western Europe.

“I promise I will fight for great change in this country. It’s time to establish a new political style,” Kurz said Sunday.

Despite Kurz’s pro-EU pledge, observers say a right-wing alliance risks driving a wedge between Austria and Brussels.

Vienna will hold the EU’s presidency in the second half of 2018, just when Brussels wants to conclude Brexit talks.

Kurz has openly praised Hungary’s populist premier Viktor Orban, while the FPOe is ambivalent at best about the EU.

Strache wants EU sanctions on Moscow lifted and pushed for closer ties with the Visegrad Four countries — Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

A right-wing coalition “is likely to lead to more tensions with other EU members and Austria is likely to move closer to the Visegrad 4 states”, said expert Pepijn Bergsen at the Economist Intelligence Unit.


Trump links border wall, green-card overhaul to DACA

October 9, 2017

By Jill Colvin

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told congressional leaders on Sunday that his hard-line immigration priorities must be enacted in exchange for extending protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, many of whom were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Trump’s list of demands included overhauling the country’s green-card system, a crackdown on unaccompanied minors entering the country, and building his promised wall along the southern border.

Many were policies Democrats have said explicitly are off the table and threaten to derail ongoing negotiations over legislation protecting young immigrants known as “Dreamers.” They had been given a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the country under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which Trump ended last month.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders released by the White House, Trump said the priorities were the product of a “a bottom-up review of all immigration policies” that he had ordered “to determine what legislative reforms are essential for America’s economic and national security.

“These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” he wrote, adding that: “Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end.”

Trump announced last month that he was ending the DACA program, but he gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before recipients began to lose their status. Trump suggested at the time that he was eager for a deal, telling reporters, “I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”

He’d also tweeted that if Congress was unwilling to find a fix, he would “revisit this issue!” in six months.

Trump had previously said he wanted a DACA deal to include significant money for border security and eventual funding for his border wall. But the priorities released by the White House went far beyond that.

They included a complete overhaul of the green-card system that would limit family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents as part of an effort to end what is known as “chain migration.”

The White House also said it wants to boost fees at border crossings, hire 10,000 more immigration enforcement officers, make it easier to deport gang members and unaccompanied children, and overhaul the asylum system. And it wants new measures to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” which don’t share information with federal immigration authorities, among other proposals.

“These priorities are essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grants or status to DACA recipients,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters in a Sunday evening conference call. “We’re asking that these reforms be included in any legislation concerning the status of DACA recipients.”

But it remained unclear whether the president considers each of the more than a dozen priorities to be non-negotiable or whether the White House sees them more as a starting point for negotiation with members of Congress. Officials on the call notably declined to say whether the president would veto legislation that did not include each and every one of them.

Trump last month appeared to reach at least the broad outlines of a DACA deal with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in which he would agree to extend DACA protections in exchange for a package of border security measures.

While Trump made clear that he was not backing down on his wall demand, he and other administration officials said then that they would be comfortable with wall funding coming later, in a separate legislative vehicle.

In a joint statement Sunday night, Pelosi and Schumer said Trump’s list of proposals failed “to represent any attempt at compromise.”

“The Administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans” they wrote. “The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the president’s “draconian and anti-immigrant principles” threatened to jeopardize “the bi-partisan, bi-cameral progress that has been made to pass a legislative solution that will protect nearly 800,000 Dreamers.”

“It is immoral for the President to use the lives of these young people as bargaining chips in his quest to impose his cruel, anti-immigrant and un-American agenda on our nation,” she added in a statement.

The demands could also divide Republicans, several of whom have introduced legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for less drastic changes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Doug Andres said the House immigration working group will review the list and consult with Republican members and the administration.


Follow Colvin on Twitter at

Trump sends Congress immigration legislation priorities

October 9, 2017


© AFP / by W.G. Dunlop | The Trump administration tied its immigration priorities to Democrats’ desire to provide legal protection to some 690,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers” who came to the country illegally as children and were covered by an amnesty that was scrapped last month

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump sent Congress his immigration legislation priorities Sunday, including building a controversial border wall, speeding up deportations and dramatically increasing the number of officials involved in enforcement.

The list, which also includes preventing immigrants from sponsoring their extended families to move to the US, drew immediate fire from Democratic leaders in Congress, who said it goes “far beyond what is reasonable.”

The administration tied its priorities to Democrats’ desire to provide legal protection to some 690,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers” who came to the country illegally as children and were covered by an amnesty by former president Barack Obama that Trump scrapped last month.

“These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” Trump wrote in a letter to Congress accompanying the list, using the official name for the amnesty order.

The White House list is topped by “border security,” a category that includes building a massive wall on the southern US border that Trump promised would be paid for by Mexico, which has said it will not do so.

Trump also wants to dramatically ramp up the number of officials involved in enforcement, hiring an additional 10,000 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers and 1,000 attorneys, 370 immigration judges and 300 federal prosecutors.

And he hopes to prevent immigrants from sponsoring extended family members to move to the US, limiting such green cards to spouses and children, as well as to close “loopholes” that prevent the deportation of children who enter the country illegally.

The list includes financially targeting “sanctuary cities” that have resisted the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants.

– Criticism from Democrats –

“The administration proposes blocking sanctuary cities from receiving certain grants or cooperative agreements administered or awarded by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security,” it said.

Other proposals include cracking down on people who overstay visas, restricting asylum and expanding criteria that would make someone inadmissible to the US.

Trump’s list was criticized by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the respective Democratic leaders in the Senate and House.

“This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise,” the legislators said in a joint statement.

“The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”

The president has previously insisted the wall will go ahead and that he wants “massive border security” in exchange for a deal on DACA protections.

Trump has made toughening immigration regulations a central part of his first year in office, also issuing several versions of a controversial travel ban that has been criticized for targeting Muslim-majority countries and subject to numerous legal challenges.

The latest version, which was unveiled last month, bans citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.

Also suspended are certain Venezuelan government officials and their families, due to what the US called poor security and a lack of cooperation with American authorities.

by W.G. Dunlop

School segregation in Europe ‘form of discrimination’

September 12, 2017


© AFP/File | The open-air classroom in northeast Paris for migrants waiting for a decision by the French government on their asylum claim

STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (AFP) – School segregation in Europe is “one of the worst forms of discrimination”, the region’s top rights watchdog said in a report published Tuesday.

Many European countries continue to exclude disabled children, Roma children and migrants or refugees from mainstream schools, according to the report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

“School segregation harms children’s learning opportunities and is a clear injustice against minority and other vulnerable groups of people, which also perpetuates their marginalisation,” said Nils Muiznieks.

Countries have an obligation to combat segregation in schools, but the reality is very different, the report said.

Political leaders and education authorities can sometimes be reluctant to bring about changes that alter the existing privilege in education, it added.

The report made a series of recommendations aimed at the leaders of the 47 Council of Europe member states, including strengthening the law.

“The legislation should be comprehensive and explicit enough to address situations in which tradition, freedom of choice, parental consent or urban segregation serve to legitimise discrimination and high concentrations of Roma children, children of migrant background or children with disabilities in specific schools,” the report said.

A move towards more inclusive education systems will also require a change in attitude.

Parents of the majority population often prefer to send their children to schools without minority and migrant groups.

The report also called for a ban on the use of tests as a selection tool and suggests assigning the best teachers to the most difficult schools.

Photographers Respond to Trump’s Comments on Sweden — Protecting The Image, Ignoring Many of the Facts

September 12, 2017

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s leading photographers are launching a new exhibit and publishing a book in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of the country’s immigration policy.

During a rally in Florida in February, Trump said that terrorism was growing in Europe, and “look what’s happening last night in Sweden.” But the comment baffled many Swedes because there had been no extraordinary trouble that night in Sweden, a country welcoming to immigrants.

Publisher Max Strom commissioned “Last night in Sweden” in an effort to present a more diverse and multi-faceted portrait of Sweden.

Photographer and publisher Jeppe Wikstrom told The Associated Press before the exhibit’s opening that “we felt we had to react because we didn’t recognize Sweden at all in his words.”

The crowdfunded book hits the shelves Tuesday.


German aid to migrants creating pull effect: minister — Merkel’s Christian Democrats “are ready to do anything” for votes

September 9, 2017
© AFP/File | Many migrants see Germany as their dream destination

BERLIN (AFP) – German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned Saturday that Berlin’s generous offer of benefits for asylum seekers was a siren call for migrants.

“The benefits for refugees in Germany are quite high compared to other EU countries. This is part of the pull effect towards Germany,” de Maiziere, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in an interview with the Rheinische Post regional daily.

Under Merkel’s impetus, Germany welcomed more than a million asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, all of them ushered in by Maiziere’s interior ministry.

His comments on Saturday, two weeks ahead of legislative elections, were roundly criticised by the far-left Die Linke party and the German Greens.

Aid for refugees “cannot be reduced below the subsistence minimum,” argued Katrin Goering-Eckardt, head of the Greens parliamentary group.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats “are ready to do anything” for votes, she added.

Die Linke deputy Jan Korte said that Maiziere was seeking to “disfigure the right to asylum”.

De Maiziere on Saturday stressed the need to harmonise asylum procedures for European nations, an issue already broached at EU-level.

The European Union needs “a truly homogenous asylum system,” he said.

An asylum seeker arriving in Germany has the right to housing and up to 390 euros ($470) per month to cover food, clothing and other expenses.

Daca: Trump ‘to scrap’ amnesty for young immigrants

September 4, 2017

BBC News

Rocio, a Daca programme recipient, at a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, September 1, 2017
Many recipients of the Daca programme have taken to the streets to defend it. Reuters photo

US President Donald Trump has decided to scrap a programme that protects young undocumented immigrants, according to reports.

He will give Congress six months to draw up legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), sources quoted by US media say.

The decision, first reported in Politico, is considered a compromise amid strong support for the scheme.

However, the sources cautioned that Mr Trump could still change his mind.

He is due to formally announce his decision on Tuesday.

The Obama-era Daca programme protects hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” from deportation and provides work and study permits.

According to Politico, the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning.

Mr Ryan last week urged the president not to scrap the scheme, arguing it left many young people “in limbo”.

“These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home,” he said.

Young immigrants and supporters walk holding signs during a rally in support of Daca in Los Angeles, on September 1, 2017
President Trump has previously said he “loves” the Dreamers. AFP

Mr Ryan is one of a growing number of Republican lawmakers and business leaders to speak out against scrapping the programme.

While campaigning for office, Mr Trump took a hard-line on immigration and scrapping Daca was one of his core promises.

But since then he has said he finds the subject “very, very tough”.

He said he intends to show “great heart” in dealing with what he described as, in many cases, “incredible kids”.

On Sunday, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Thanks to Dreamers’ courage & resolve, #DACA has allowed thousands of young people to contribute to our society. We’re better for it.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican Representative from Florida, also took to Twitter to vent her frustration, saying: “After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his ‘great heart,’ @POTUS slams door on them. Some ‘heart’.”

What is Daca?

The Daca programme protects roughly 750,000 people in the US from deportation and provides temporary permits for work and study.

In order to qualify for Daca, applicants under the age of 30 submit personal information to the Department of Homeland Security.

Where do America’s undocumented immigrants live?

They must go through an FBI background check and have a clean criminal background, and either be in school, recently graduated or have been honourably discharged from the military.

In exchange, the US government agrees to “defer” any action on their immigration status for a period of two years.

The majority of so-called Dreamer immigrants in the US are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Merkel has no regrets about opening Germany’s borders

August 28, 2017
ANGELA Merkel said she would open Germany’s borders to migrants all over again if she had the chance to turn back the clock to 2015 as she continues her election campaign.

PUBLISHED: 12:30, Sun, Aug 27, 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34, Sun, Aug 27, 2017

Angela MerkelGETTY

Angela Merkel said she would open Germany’s borders to migrants all over again

The German Chancellor said she still backed her decision to allow more than one million migrants to enter  since 2015, despite coming under fire for the so-called open doors policy and being relentlessly heckled at recent election events.

On the campaign trail  has been booed by protestors furious at her decision to completely open Germany’s borders during the .

But a defiant Mrs Merkel, who hopes to secure a record fourth term, says she would do the same again.

And she risked further outrage by announcing she will continue to push for the fair distribution of migrants across Europe rather than letting Italy and Greece shoulder the load purely “because of their location”.

I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again

Angela Merkel

Today she struck a defiant tone as she vowed she would do things the “same way again” if she could turn back time.

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper Mrs Merkel attacked countries which have not followed Germany’s open-door policy.

Mrs Merkel said: “I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again. It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint.

“Those kinds of extraordinary situations happen every once in a while in a country’s history. The head of government has to act and I did.”

She said more countries should help take in migrants and said it was unfair Italy and Greece were being hit the hardest simply “because of their geography”.

Mrs Merkel said: “That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on. That contradicts the spirit of Europe. We’ll overcome that. It will take time and patience but we will succeed.”

Her decision to open the borders contributed to a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which pollsters say could win up to 10 per cent in the September election.

Mrs Merkel has had to contend with loud and sustained heckling from demonstrators strongly opposed to her migrant policies so far on the campaign trail.

Angela MerkelGETTY

A poster reading ‘Merkel must go’ at a recent German election campaign event

Angela MerkelGETTY

Angela Merkel has defended her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter Germany

The volume and intensity of the protests have been especially strong in her home region in formerly communist eastern Germany. But the 63-year-old Chancellor said she would not be kept away from areas where animosity towards her runs high.

She said: “We’re a democracy and everyone can freely express themselves in public the way they want. It’s important that we don’t go out of our way to avoid certain areas only because there are a bunch of people screaming.”

Support for Mrs Merkel and her party has recovered somewhat after the influx of refugees slowed in 2016 to 280,000 and fell even further to about 106,000 in the first seven months of this year.

Four weeks before the September 24 election, an Emnid opinion poll on Sunday showed Mrs Merkel’s conservatives would win 38 per cent, or 15 points ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). That is up from 32 per cent in February but well below the 41.5 per cent her party won in the last election in 2013.