Churches issue warning against refugee revenge after Berlin Christmas market attack

(Photo: © Peter Kenny)Berlin's Reichstag building on Aug. 26, 2015  

Church leaders in Berlin have urged after to the lethal terror attack at a Christmas marker that people do not blame refugees.

Visitors on Dec. 22 went back to the Berlin Christmas market as it reopened three days after being struck by a deadly truck assault that shocked Germany and the world and for which the Islamist terror group IS claimed responsibility.

German officials were facing criticism after it became known that Anis Amri, the Tunisian suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack, was known to police. His fingerprints were reportedly found in the truck that killed 12 people Dec. 19.

Rev. Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler from St George's Anglican church in Berlin told Premier's News Hour the refugees his church was working with were now "obviously very concerned indeed."

He said, "They are feeling particularly vulnerable. Many of them have now got German friends and families who are now supporting them and that's just something we have to reinforce and we have to encourage.

"We are standing together as the people who live in Berlin and we're horrified at this attack. We're renewing our love and concern for each other."

Far fewer refugees have arrived in Germany in 2016, just over 200,000 compared to the 890,000 who were permitted to enter in 2015, The National reported.

Pastor Steve Dye from CrossWay International Church Berlin told Premier's News Hour the atmosphere had changed: "You hear about attacks of terror almost every day now, but when it hits the city that you love and that you live in, it affects you obviously in a much closer way."

Berlin International Community Church Pastor Andrew Mack told Premier people were "very disturbed and devastated."

Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, leader of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) said, "I want to be clear: We will not allow this confidence, this culture of shared humanity to be destroyed by these acts of brutality.

"We will not allow an atmosphere of fear, of hate, of distrust to spread in our country. We will not do violent criminals this favor."

Pope Francis sent a condolence telegram to the Archbishop of Berlin in which he said he is praying for the dead and injured.

In Geneva, World Council of Churches general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit said, "Once again, people going about their daily lives, in celebration of holidays and in worship, have suffered violent attack.

"We must join together, not just to condemn these actions but to strengthen our pursuit of just peace, and our resolve not to allow extremist violence to separate us from each other."

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