BERLIN Dec 20 Refugees in Berlin pleaded with
their host nation to avoid placing migrants under a blanket of
suspicion after police commandos raided their shelter, which had
been home to a man arrested over a truck attack on a crowded
"We are of course worried," said Ibrahim Sufi, a 26-year-old
Syrian living in Hangar 7 at the former Tempelhof airport, an
imposing structure built by Hitler to showcase Nazi might and
now being used to house migrants.
"We are worried about how the German public will view us
after this terrorist attack," added Sufi, tucking his hands into
his red jacket to keep warm on a freezing morning. "My message
to the Germans is: 'Don't suspect everybody, don't generalise.'"
Refugees were accosted by dozens of journalists eager for
information about Monday night's police operation, carried out
after the attack that killed 12 people. Some gazed at the ground
as they left the huge hangars and sped away to language lessons,
waving their arms to fend off reporters.
"We woke up to shouts in German around 3:30 in the morning,"
said Afghan refugee Safihullah, 21, who lives in Hangar 6, which
was raided by police.
"We had no idea what was happening. Security guards told us
to stay in. Later they told us there had been a police raid.
They said nothing else," added Safihullah, speaking in German.
A security source told Reuters the arrested man had been
staying at the Tempelhof refugee centre. However, police said
they were not sure if he was the attacker, and it was possible
the real perpetrator was still on the run.
The influx of more than one million migrants into Germany
this year and last, mainly Muslims fleeing countries such as
Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, has hardened public views on
immigration and weakened support for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It has also fuelled xenophobia. Authorities in Berlin say
they recorded 59 attacks on refugee shelters in the city last
year and 48 so far this year.
"We have nothing to do with this crime," said Ammar Wazzaz,
a 45-year-old refugee from the Syrian city of Idlib. "I hope
that what this person did won't tarnish the reputation of
refugees like us who are very grateful to Germany."
Yaser, a 32-year-old refugee from Syria, said he became
dejected when he read about the attack on Facebook.
"We fled this kind of terrorism and it is following us
here," he said, adjusting a black beanie on his head.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)