The town of Celle in Germany was stunned when long-time resident and Iranian refugee Mehdi Hushmand was found bludgeoned to death in his home earlier this year. Locals were even more shocked when the prime suspect was a recently arrived migrant from Afghanistan whom local high school science teacher Hushmand had befriended.
The murder and the largely unknown motive behind it have left this small town of 70,000 in the German heartland near Hanover, nervous and worried for the future.
The situation also taps into Germany’s larger, uncomfortable relationship with migration in general, and when the country is obviously struggling to integrate all the new arrivals.
One could easily argue that Celle is a microcosm of a conflicted Germany.
Residents say they are happy the likely killer has been caught, but they are also nervous and divided about what to do in the future.
“Of course we all talk about it,” remarked middle-aged Oliver Spiess, who lives in the same neighborhood as Hushmand. “For a small town like Celle, this is really unusual, and murder is a serious matter.”
Mayor Dirk-Ulrich Mende still boasts that Celle was one of the very few communities that applied to create a refugee center in their town. Celle has converted a barracks given up by the British after the Cold War into refugee accommodations. The town anticipates taking in another 500 refugees by this summer, in addition to the 3,000 plus that already moved here.
Comments on the website of the local newspaper, however, make it clear that suspicions and resentments exist below Celle’s apparent embrace of immigrants.
“You read a lot about the refugees when it’s positive,” Sebastian Nitz, a 29-year-old roofer, noted. “Like a refugee found money and returned it. But heaven forbids someone does something bad. If you report at all, then it should be everything.”
“No one is really enthusiastic about the refugees,” Nitz continued. He was interviewed by telephone because he complained on the website that the newspaper did not mention that the murder suspect was a recent refugee and said it seemed the paper was “muzzled.”
Source: New York Times