Representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany and German politicians reacted with horror to the riots in the U.S. But these events could also serve as a reminder for Germany.
Archbishop Schick: Admonition to reconciliation
The events in America are frightening and disturbing, the Catholic theologian wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "Trump, sadly, but only fuels the fire of discord and strife that burns among Americans."Schick also recalled in his tweet a quote from U.S. civil rights leader and Baptist minister Martin Luther King (1929-1968): 'There is no greater power than love. It overcomes hatred like light overcomes darkness."
The U.S., like many other societies around the world, needs reconciliation, urged Schick, who is chairman of the Commission for the Universal Church of the German Bishops' Conference.
President Rekowski: Warning for us, too
The violent storming of the Capitol in Washington is an expression of disrespect, disregard and mockery of democratic rules of the constitutional state, according to Rhineland President Manfred Rekowski. "It is an attack on democracy when elected representatives of the state become the hunted in parliament buildings," the senior theologian of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland told the Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd) on Thursday. "Add to this the inconceivable fact that the incumbent U.S. president, despite the violence on Twitter, has repeated his complete lede of lies of an allegedly 'stolen' election."
These events should also be a warning and reminder to Germans, Rekowski said, recalling the disruptive actions by AfD guests who harassed members of parliament in the Reichstag building in November. In August, moreover, right-wing extremists and other protesters had stormed the steps of the Reichstag building on the fringes of demonstrations against the Corona measures.
"What is happening in the U.S. should make clear even to the last person in our country how dangerous such anti-democratic attitudes are and how quickly words can turn into deeds," the 62-year-old theologian said. "The lies and defamation of people and democratic institutions we must consistently counter from the outset."
Theologian Kabmann: churches could play reconciliatory role
"The images confirm the realization: violence begins with words and ends with deeds," Protestant theologian Margot Kabmann told the Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd) on Thursday.
According to Kabmann, the rift through American society has been evident for years. On the one side, she said, were liberal and cosmopolitan forces that had long felt at home in a multi-ethnic and also multi-religious society. On the other hand, people reacted with fear and uncertainty to the fact that the world had changed.
Kabmann believes the churches could play a weighty and reconciling role in the tense situation. "Some do it. But many, unfortunately, did not, defending Donald Trump despite his lies, his sexist and inhuman remarks, his threats of violence."One reason, he said, was that he had supported her opposition to the right to abortion. "This is depressing."
Trump, he said, has allowed the rift in American society to become a deep chasm. "Thank God there are only a few days left until the end of his term in office."It is doubtful whether the rift can be bridged so that new opportunities for a united society can arise. "But as a Christian, I am hopeful that what seems impossible will become possible. And I hope the churches contribute crystal clear," Kabmann emphasized.
German President Steinmeier: democracy is our most precious asset
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke Thursday of a "storm at the heart of American democracy". He was the "result of lies and more lies" as well as of "contempt for democracy, hatred and agitation – also from the highest level". Steinmeier sees a caesura for the U.S. and for liberal democracy. But he said he was sure democracy was stronger than hatred. "Democracy is our most precious asset and lives from the commitment of our citizens."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) said the "disturbing images" had made her "angry and sad". She placed some of the blame on U.S. President Donald Trump. The fact that he had stirred up doubts about the election results had made the violent events possible in the first place.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) also laid part of the blame on Trump. "Anyone who, like Trump, ignites with words for years and constantly incites his own supporters bears responsibility for this attack on the heart of American democracy," Maas writes in Der Spiegel. But it would be self-righteous to point the finger at America alone. "Even here, in Hanau, Halle, on the steps of the Reichstag, we have had to experience how agitation and inflammatory words turn into hateful deeds."
President of the Bundestag Schauble: excesses of a mob ready for violence
Bundestag President Wolfgang Schauble pointed to Trump's responsibility. The "excesses of a mob ready for violence" were whipped up by the president-elect, who "despises the basic rule of democracy to admit his obvious electoral defeat," the CDU politician wrote to Nancy Pelosi, the re-elected leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Schauble emphasized that all democratically constituted constitutional states are currently faced with the challenge of having to make decisions under the conditions of globalization, which brings with it not only many opportunities but also enormous conflicts. The clashes of interests associated with deep social division could only be peacefully negotiated through the parliamentary process.
NRW Minister President Laschet: events consequence of polarizing, self-centered politics
NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) reacted with dismay to the violent clashes in the U.S. capital Washington. "The images were terrible for all those who – like me – feel closely connected to the United States," he told the "Rheinische Post" (Friday) in Dusseldorf. The United States Congress, he said, was a symbol of freedom and democracy throughout the world. The attack on democracy is "repulsive," Laschet emphasized.
The events, he said, are a consequence of polarizing, self-centered politics that deliberately divide society through lies and falsehoods instead of bringing it together. Laschet blamed outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump: "The attack is the result of the enduring contempt for democratic institutions that President Trump has been expressing for years."Those who sow aggression and populism through their language reap violence and hatred. "Even in his last statements, the president poured oil on the fire instead of calling for moderation," he told the newspaper.
With regard to Germany, Laschet stressed, "The events remind us to pay attention to social cohesion. There is also latent aggression in our society."Especially in the upcoming election year, one must "conduct the debates in such a factual manner that the social climate is not additionally heated up".