Why is Germany canceling Carnival Celebrations?

German authorities forced the city of Braunschweig cancel their Carnival celebrations because of a possible terror threat. Is Europe suffering from more or less terror attacks by volume compared to the 1970s? 

Ralph Orlowski/Reuters
Carnival revellers walk past a police car near the city hall of the northern German town of Braunschweig on Sunday. A carnival parade in Braunschweig planned for Sunday lunchtime has been cancelled at short notice due to a concrete threat of an Islamist attack, police said.

On most years, the town of Braunschweig, in Northern Germany hosts an annual Carnival parade that attracts some 250,000 people.

But not this year: The parade had been cancelled after threats of violence.

The parade was called off due to a “specific threat of an Islamist attack,” a state security source said in a press conference. The parade was canceled just 90 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Some participants and observers had already flocked to the parade route through the center of the city but were told to go home by the authorities, according to the BBC.

Carnival parades and large street parties are held across the Catholic regions of Germany in the week before Lent every year. German security has been on heightened alert following the Copenhagen shootings, but according to the German daily newspaper Die Welt, Braunschweig police chief Michael Pientka said there was no connection between the possible German attack and the Copenhagen attack.

No other information was provided as to the possible motive or suspects from the German threat. The Associated Press reported that the warning came from intelligence sources.

The recent apparent increase in terrorist attacks in Europe like the Charlie Hedbo attacks, and the shootings in Belgium and Copenhagen has led some to think that the Global War on Terror is at long last now come to be fought partially in the West.

But the recent attacks that have plagued Europe are tiny compared to where the continent was back in the 1970’s when various armed paramilitary and guerrilla groups like the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force in Ireland, the leftist Baader Meinhof Group in Germany, and the Basque nationalist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, launched hundreds of attacks throughout the decade.

According to the University of Maryland-based Global Terror Database, the 1970s were a far more tumultuous era for European terrorism. For instance, from 1970 to 1979, during the climax of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, nearly 1,500 terrorist attacks that killed over 1,600 people in that conflict alone

Italy experienced the next highest number of attacks in the same time period with nearly 1,000, according to the Global Terror Database. During the, “Years of Lead” when the Red Brigades, which were armed Marxist terrorist groups, fought to destabilize the Italian state, according to a BBC story.

The next highest number of fatalities occurred in Spain, where nearly 300 people were killed in the years from 1970 to 1979 over the span of close 900 attacks, according to the Global Terror Database.

From 1982 up until 1995 no European country ranked in the top five for domestic terror attacks, according to the Global Terror Database. The only two European countries that appeared on the the database’s top ten list after 1980 were Northern Ireland and Spain.

By contrast, in more contemporary times, Russia is the only European country to have experienced a high volume of terrorist attacks, that killed nearly 2,100 people since 2002, according to the database. There were 115 reported attacks in Greece in 2009, but there was only one fatality.

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