HEIDELBERG, GERMANY — Vigils have been held across Europe to commemorate the victims of the terror attacks on Paris on Friday, which claimed the lives of 132 people.
More than 1,000 people took to the Theaterplatz in the center of Heidelberg to pay their respects to the victims. Many brought candles and messages of mourning.
“It’s important to me that humanity is shown,” Tobias Müller, a doctoral student at the University of Heidelberg told The Student: “That it’s not politicised, that it’s not about military deployment…or religious difference.
“This isn’t a time to think about what should be done next, instead we should pause and think of the values that unite us.”
Drums were played in the square before two minutes of silence were held.
The Student also spoke to Pierre Pfister, a French student on his year abroad in Heidelberg.
Pfister said: “I was shocked in January. This time my only reaction was pure disbelief that this could happen again.
“In France we are in a crisis of morality…and we are at war…we don’t want to be at war.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her country’s solidarity with the French people. She emphasised the support of France’s “German friends”, saying “Germany shares in your pain and sadness.”
Germany “believes in the right of everyone to search for a better life…[and] in mutual respect and tolerance.”
However, pressure has been mounting for Merkel to tighten border controls. Members of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have warned that the attacks have ushered in a “new period” in which a restriction on the number of immigrants was essential.
Markus Söder, the finance minister for the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), said it was naïve to think terrorists were not among the one million refugees expected to arrive in Germany this year. He stated: “no more compromises can be made” over the safety of the German people.
The interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has come under scrutiny for introducing tougher regulations for refugees to enter Germany without consultation of Merkel or the country’s refugee coordinator.
For now, Chancellor Merkel’s policy towards refugees has remained open. When asked why he thought this was, Müller suggested that Germany was “reluctant” to engage in overseas warfare due to the critical stance which would be taken by the public.
Germany’s lack of a long-lasting colonial past, he continued, meant that there was less of a “feeling of responsibility” felt by Germans in comparison to other western powers.
Tears in the CDU stability and support for Merkel’s refugee policies are beginning to show in the polled support for her across the country.
According to statistics collected by the ‘Statistics Portal’, Merkel’s support has dropped from 68 per cent in June to 49 per cent this month.
Image: Joshua Stein