'We Cannot Turn Our Backs': The World Responds To News Of The Tragedy In Berlin

One Berliner shares his thoughts about the alleged attack and the support.

As Justin Baughn was walking into his flat in Berlin on Dec. 19, he was thinking about all the hatred in the world and how lucky he was to live in a place that seemed removed from it.



Baughn in Berlin.
Baughn in Berlin.

And then his phone rang. It was his mother calling from the United States, asking him if he was OK. She had just seen the news break that someone had driven a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring more than 50 people.

Baughn, a 25-year-old American who moved to Berlin a year ago, said it broke his heart to see someone seemingly try to rip apart the fabric of his new home. 

"I know that we will stand strong together and unite as a city," he told A Plus. "Since moving here a year ago, Berlin has taught me a lot about acceptance and understanding of others. It is the kind of place where people are celebrated for being unique."

In the wake of the tragedy, there has been an outpouring of support from people all over social media. Using hashtags #PrayForBerlin and #IchBinEinBerliner — or "I am a Berliner," a phrase made famous stateside by President John F. Kennedy — people have been sending prayers and hope to Berlin. 

According to Baughn, Berliners hear and see those messages.

"It certainly helps to see people unite in times of tragedy," he said. "I know it's cliché, but it does make a difference. It definitely helps when people reach out and extend their love and support."

Police believe the truck was driven into the Christmas market intentionally, and a White House statement suggested that the event "appears to have been a terrorist attack." As with most similar events, a tide of Islamophobia has arisen in its wake. German media named Naved B, a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum-seeker, as a top suspect, though he denies the charges, according to The Guardian. On Dec. 20, the BBC reported that Naved B was released by police due to insufficient evidence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attack would be "especially repugnant" if it indeed was carried out by a refugee, as some media outlets are reporting. Germany, of course, has taken in more than one million refugees in an effort to aid those fleeing the Syrian Civil War.  

According to Baughn, when something like this happens, people are "naturally" concerned with their own safety. But he says it's important to stay resolute in your values and understand that refugees aren't at fault.

"We cannot turn our backs on the people that are victims to this kind of terror every day," Baughn said. "This is a mere fraction of what these people are exposed to regularly. We must accept those fleeing from the terror."

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Cover image via Shutterstock / S.Borisov.

This story has been updated to reflect Naved B's release.

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