Relatives and family members of Daesh* fighters and their wives have protested against the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, demanding that children and wives of jihadists from Germany should be repatriated. Between 20 and 50 protesters reportedly gathered in front of the Foreign Ministry building holding banners with Daesh children’s names, photos, and some info about them. Other placards read “Children are not responsible” and “Innocent German children will die and the state is just watching”.
According to one of the protesters, cited by the website VICE, the German government does not want to take back these children, who are trapped with their mothers in detention camps in Syria.
“I want my grandchildren to leave Syria and come to Hamburg, to live normally, to go to the nursery, to be protected, to be able to hug them, to have food, to be warm, and to love them”, one protester, Intessar Aataba, whose three-year-old and one-year-old grandchildren remain in Syria, told the news agency AFP.
The organiser of the demonstration, Danisch Farooqi, whose wife fled to the Daesh strongholds in Syria with their daughter and new husband, told the outlet that more than 200 foreign children had already died in such camps, which have poor hygienic conditions and lack food.
"Heiko Maas [foreign minister] will have blood on his hands. The blood of German children!" he chanted in front of the Foreign Ministry.
At least 59 children of German Daesh fighters were still in Syria in March, the Interior Ministry revealed, amid ongoing debate about how to deal with German citizens who had joined Daesh. While Germany’s government was in agreement that citizens with dual nationality should be deprived of their German passports under certain conditions if they become members of terrorist groups, some opposition parties have accused the government of trying to avoid the responsibility to put suspected Daesh members on trial.
With discussions still ongoing, the country’s government has already brought back several children of German Daesh* followers from Iraq, placing them with relatives. Authorities pledged to bring these children, sometimes referred to as “cubs of the caliphate”, to their parents’ home country more than a year ago. Speaking about such children, the Foreign Ministry indicated that it is aware that German nationals are being detained in the north of the country, but that it has no direct consular access to them as there is currently no German embassy in Syria.
The repatriation of Jihadists and their families remains a sensitive and politically heated topic in the West. The United States earlier recommended that each country take charge of its own jihadists and judge them on its territory, whereas France, for instance, wants the perpetrators to be judged on the spot. Germany does not seem eager to see them back home, as the country’s Justice Ministry recently suggested stripping jihadists of their citizenship.
* Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia