Bavaria is used to hosting big crowds this time of year when tourists stream to Oktoberfest to hoist a Maß or two of an Augustiner-Bräu beer. This year, however, the southern state is the main point of entry for migrants and refugees streaming into Germany—and yet, the traditional festival is still going ahead as planned in Munich. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this is causing some problems:
This week, Munich police officials tried to reassure the public that they have matters under control. The biggest challenge, deputy Munich police chief Werner Feiler said, would be keeping order at the central train station, which could have large numbers of beer festival visitors and migrants passing through simultaneously.“We have currently here in Munich a situation that doesn’t compare to any Wiesn operation before,” Mr. Feiler said, using the colloquial Bavarian term for Oktoberfest’s main venue in central Munich.
Even at the best of times, the Munich train station is a hot, crowded mess located in the middle of something of a red-light district. So the combination of large influxes of migrants and festival goers is bound to cause massive issues. And then there are the cultural, as well as logistical, issues:
“Asylum seekers in particular from Muslim countries aren’t used to encountering heavily drunk people in public,” Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said. “It could get out of hand.”[..]On Munich’s main shopping street on Tuesday, women in abayas—the long robes worn by some Muslim women—were studying lederhosen and dirndls—the revealing shorts and dresses traditional in Bavaria—in the shop windows.
As far as cultural clashes go, these are funnier than most. And as the new immigrants are Syrian, not Saudi, we imagine they might have a beer or two themselves. (They’re more likely to have problems getting something to eat: an astonishing portion of the Bavarian diet is pork of some sort.) But not every cultural difference between Syrians and those at the festival will be as funny, and some could cause real tension. We hope the German government is prepared to deal with them when they arise. Prost!