The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A U.S. conservative group tried to depict Germany under radical Islamist control. Germans weren’t happy.

Muslims pray at the Turkish Kuba Camii mosque near a hotel housing refugees in Cologne's district of Kalk, Germany, on Oct. 14. (Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

Oktoberfest without beer and pork sausages? IEDs hidden in the country's forests? That's how Germany's future looks, according to a new video paid for by U.S. neoconservative group Secure America Now.

“Welcome to the Islamic State of Germany,” the bizarre video's narrator enthusiastically explains right at the beginning, followed by references to suicide bombers and a manipulated sequence that shows the ISIS flag hanging at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. That, however, didn't go down too well in Germany, where commentators and journalists quickly ridiculed the politicized satire. A similar video about France was released in the middle of October, though it attracted far less attention.

Berlin-based newspaper B.Z. called the video “absurd, populist,” and its competitor Berliner Morgenpost referred to it as a “gaga video.” On Twitter, the video was mocked by commentators calling it “ridiculous” and describing how they first checked whether it had been produced for a comedy show.

Germans are likely to have a few objections. Trying to illustrate refugees living in train stations in the country, the video's producers picked a sequence of an arriving Austrian train, for instance. (To some Germans, worse than calling the country an Islamic State might be the suggestion that it is part of Austria.) Viewers might also wonder about the decision to feature a map highlighting exactly three European cities: Berlin, Paris — and Nantes, a city with roughly 300,000 inhabitants in western France.

The Morgenpost newspaper described the video as an effort to influence the U.S. election campaign in favor of Donald Trump although its producers denied such claims, speaking to the newspaper. Secure America Now, the neoconservative group behind the video, states that it wants to bring “critical security issues to the forefront of the American debate,” according to its website. The group also has more than 3 million fans on Facebook.

Although the video has been widely perceived to be pro-Trump in Germany, its producers have suggested that its main goal is to influence Senate races in several states.

Throughout his campaign, however, Trump has repeatedly criticized Germany's decision to take in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. In August, he called it a “disaster.”

“In short, Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel,” Trump said, “and you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany — crime has risen to levels that no one thought they would ever see. We have enough problems in our country, we don’t need another one.”

German officials had previously disputed such claims. “Immigrants are not more criminal than Germans,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

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Trump says German crime levels have risen and refugees are to blame. Not exactly.