What makes a good end of year celebration? Drinking with friends? Music? Gathering outside for a traditional fireworks display to start the new year, and all those empty resolutions, with a bang? Well, at least one group of people had to shelve their celebrations as liberal party-poopers deemed fireworks to be potentially emotionally scarring to their refugee population.
The German town of Arnsberg banned the use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve near refugee camps in case it triggered their increasing migrant population by reminding them of the war zones they had fled prior to their arrival in Germany. The town introduced this new law after a report published in September by Germany’s Federal Psychotherapy Chamber claimed that “40% to 50%” of migrants and refugees suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
Speaking to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, a spokesperson for Arnsber, Christian Soebbeler, said, “those who have fled war-torn areas associate the bangs more with gunshots and bombs than with New Year.”
In the same feature, Dr. Joachim Bauer, a psychotherapist based in the University Medical Centre in Freiberg, said the sound of fireworks could cause anxiety and panic: “For this reason it seems sensible to prohibit the customary New Year’s fireworks in refugee shelters and the surrounding areas.”
Neither addressed why, if these migrants were indeed traumatised, the new law also had to specifically legislate against the sale of fireworks to refugee shelter residents.
It wasn’t just Arnsberg that also seemed to think people who survived some of the most horrifying conditions known to mankind might have trouble dealing with fireworks. One reporter with AFP tweeted images of signs posted at a refugee shelter in Tempelhof airport, Berlin. Describing the German tradition of fireworks as “insane,” the tweet shows a sign that condescendingly explains what fireworks are to the refugees based there, as if their own culture had never encountered them before.
“Fireworks on the 31st December 2015 from midnight are normal and not dangerous. Loud firecrackers and bright fireworks are lit on the ground or are shot into the sky to ring in the new year,” it reads.
Germany have accepted more refugees than any other European nation, with over one million registering in 2015.
Completing this liberal war on fireworks came the news that German supermarket chain Aldi Süd were criticised for the sale of a pack of brightly coloured rockets called “Paris,” citing the tragic Paris terrorist attacks six weeks prior as the reason. None of the critical publications, which included Die Welt and Huffington Post, seemed interested that the fireworks were part of a series named after famous cities all over the world including, Las Vegas, Sydney and Rio. It also seemed to gloss over the consensus in the media and from Parisians alike was that the ultimate victory for the jihadists would be to live in fear and not celebrate the vibrant city of Paris in all its wonder. Fireworks, it seems, are a step too far.