28 April 2016
Hamburg – ESI at public debate on the links between terrorism and the refugee crisis
Gerald Knaus speaking. Photo: ESI
Gerald Knaus speaking. Photo: ESI

ESI's Gerald Knaus participated in a public debate on Islamic terrorism, threats and threat perceptions, the French state of emergency and why Germany is different, and links between terror and the refugee crisis. The debate in Hamburg was organised by Cluny, an association for French-German friendship.

Gerald pointed out that terror was obviously linked to the refugee crisis. There were – according to the Global Terrorism Database – some 108,000 victims of terror in the world between 2001 and 2014: 43,000 in Iraq, 17,000 in Afghanistan, 420 in Western Europe (of which almost half in Madrid in 2004).

The link between refugees and terrorism therefore is this: refugees flee regions of terror to reach the safest continent on earth today, Western Europe. And they mostly flee the most deadly form of terrorism: state terrorism, whether by ISIS or (even more deadly) by the Syrian government – reminding us that the origin of the word terror in modern politics was linked to state repression in 1793 Jacobin France. And that tens of millions of terror victims were the victims of states such as Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin, China under Mao, or Cambodia under Pol Pot.

On the other hand, for acceptance of refugees to be sustainable, it has to be orderly. It has to coincide with control of borders; otherwise publics will flock to those ready to give up on liberal values in exchange for false promises of total security.

The challenge for European leaders and institutions today do is to achieve both: control and compassion, and policies that actually work.


  • Serge Lavroff, French General Consul in Hamburg and Director of the Institut Franšais
  • Torsten Vo▀, Head of the Hamburg State Office for the Protection of the Constitution
  • Gerald Knaus, ESI Chairman
  • Mathias Ulmann, policy advisor in France

The event was moderated by Norbert Kremeyer, chairman of Cluny.

About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com