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Brutal murder dividing a country

December 8, 201612:04pm

Germany’s Merkel says burqa “does not belong in our country”0:32

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterates her position on burqas, telling her conservative CDU that “a full veil is inappropriate in our country” and “should be banned.”

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  • a day ago
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German medical student Maria Ladenburger was cycling home from a party when she was killed in a tragic case that has been seized upon by political parties in Germany. Picture: Facebook

THE alleged rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Germany has become a deeply divisive case used as fuel by anti-immigrant parties ahead of critical elections next year.

On October 16, medical student Maria Ladenburger was found dead in a river in the German border town of Freiburg after cycling home late from a party. Police confirmed she had left by 2:37am on her bike before becoming the “victim of a sexual offence and a violent crime”.

The young woman, who had previously volunteered with refugees, is the daughter of high-ranking European Union legal expert Clemens Ladenburger and his wife Frederica. In an obituary in the local paper they called for donations to charities in memory of her death.

“For 19 years Maria was a ray of sunshine for our family and it will stay that way. We are grateful for this gift of her life with us, and we are certain that she is safe now with God,” the notice read.

“With a heavy heart, but at the same time with firm hope, we say farewell to our dearest beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin.”

This week, the local case exploded onto the national agenda with the arrest of a 17-year-old refugee known only as Hussein K, who arrived in Germany from Afghanistan in November last year and lived with a local foster family.

He has reportedly confessed to the murder but remains able to change his plea, The Sun reports. It’s unclear what he has pleaded in relation to the alleged rape.

Maria Ladenburger was the daughter of a high-ranking EU official and the family have asked for charitable donations to be made in her honour. Picture: Facebook

Maria Ladenburger was the daughter of a high-ranking EU official and the family have asked for charitable donations to be made in her honour. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

The tragic death of the young woman who appeared smiling and happy on her Facebook profile has sparked national debate in Germany and has been used by as fuel for anti-immigrant policies by right-wing political parties.

The leader of far-right party Alternative for Deutschland Frauke Petry said her party was the only one with the “guts to speak the truth” about the young woman’s death.

It claims Freiburg is the latest city to become “synonymous with Merkel’s devastating asylum policy” in reference to the Chancellor’s decision to allow large number of refugees to enter the country last year.

“When will the Chancellor realise the consequences of the oath of office you took for the people?” it said. Party co-leader Joerg Meuthen said Angela Merkel and her team deserved “a major share of the responsibility” for the events.

The anti-Islamic group PEGIDA have also weighed in with posts targeting the young man who has been arrested and comments saying it’s “just the beginning”.

The head of Germany’s police union Rainer Wendt said the victim would “not exist if our country had been prepared for the dangers that are always associated with massive immigration”.

“And while relatives mourn and victims experience unspeakable suffering, the representatives of the ‘welcome’ culture are silent,” he said.

An Afghan teen has been arrested over Maria Ladenburger’s death. Picture: Facebook

An Afghan teen has been arrested over Maria Ladenburger’s death. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on the burka and priority for German laws in her most conservative speech in years at the party conference where she won re-election this week. Picture: Volker Hartmann/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a ban on the burka and priority for German laws in her most conservative speech in years at the party conference where she won re-election this week. Picture: Volker Hartmann/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

It has also caused a massive backlash against mainstream media after Germany’s flagship news program opted not to broadcast the story on the basis it was a local rather than national issue. Media websites have also reported a surge in vitriolic comments with Der Tagesspiegel saying the amount not suitable for publication had quadrupled, the LA Times reports.

The case has also been front of mind for Ms Merkel who won re-election as candidate this week and pledged to ban the burka where “legally possible” in a move to shore up support on the right wing.

She mentioned her horror about the case during a television interview on Monday but warned against demonising all refugees.

Her Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel did the same, saying “we are all shaken up by the heinous murder in Freiburg.” However he warned it should not be used for propaganda and conspiracy.

Ms Merkel secured just under 90 per cent of the vote for re-election within her party, her second lowest result during her leadership. She recognised the difficult time the country has been through with one million refugees entering in 2015 following the Syrian crisis but said it “could, should, and would not happen again.”

She also reinforced her commitment to Germany’s values and said the full face covering “does not belong to us”.

“Our law has priority over honorary codes, tribal and family rules and sharia,” she said.

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