Merkel: Islamist terror is greatest threat following 'year of severe tests'

BERLIN, Dec. 31 (UPI) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a New Year’s message, said Islamist terrorism is the greatest threat facing the country.

Merkel said 2016 was “a year of severe tests” following multiple “bitter and sickening” terror attacks from people claiming to seek refuge in Germany, The Independent reported.

One such attack took place on Dec. 19 when 12 people were killed and nearly 50 were injured when a truck driven by Tunisian national Anis Amri plowed through crowds in Berlin’s Christmas market.

“It is particularly bitter and sickening when terror attacks are committed by people who claim to seek protection in our country,” Merkel said.

Merkel had received criticism for her policy of admitting more than a million refugees into the country in 2015, but said scenes showing the devastation in the Syrian city of Aleppo proved it was “important and right” for Germany to provide refuge, according to the BBC.

“All this is reflected in our democracy, rule of law and values. They are the opposite of the hate-filled world of terrorism and will prove stronger than it,” she said. “Together we are stronger. Our state is stronger.”

She added she was “confident for Germany” and the country’s ability to stand up to terrorists.

“As we go about our lives and our work, we are saying to the terrorists: ‘You are hate-filled murderers, but you do not determine how we live and want to live. We are free, considerate and open,’ ” Merkel said.

Merkel also addressed the state of Europe and called for “an open view of the world and self-confidence, in ourselves and our country” while denouncing “distorted pictures of the European Union.”

“We Germans should never be deceived into thinking that a happy future could ever lie in going it alone nationally,” she said.

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