January 18th 2013 - This is a quick post about a possible failure of the Schengen regime I wrote about a couple of days ago on ZEIT ONLINE.
According to my research, Saudi Islamist preacher Mohamed al-Arifi managed to visit Germany between Dec 31st 2012 and early January 2013 even though technically there was in place a Schengen-wide travel ban for him. This ban had been demanded and put in effect by Switzerland, where al-Arifi was supposed to speak on December 15th 2012. The ban took effect on December 13th. Switzerland asked for the ban saying that al-Arifi could motivate people to participate in "armed conflict" and could constitute a danger to the security of the country,
Al-Arifi, however, posted a note on Twitter on Jan 1st 2013 that he was now in Germany and had arrived the day before. Another person posted a picture on Twitter on the same day saying it showed al-Arifi in the Southern German city of Heidelberg. Al-Arifi posted tweets later saying that he had visited people in Mainz and was going to go to Berlin. As a matter of fact he did speak at two mosques in Berlin in the days to follow.
According to my sources al-Arifi had been granted a Schengen visa prior to December 13th 2012, most likely in preparation of this planned trip to Switzerland. So technically it is possible that the entered Europe legally before the date the ban took effect and then entered Germany via one of the borders with no controls, e.g. with France. This is not very likely though, because some of al-Arifi's Tweets from just before Christmas strongly indicate that he was in Saudi Arabia at that point in time. In that case he would have managed to enter the Schengen area even though it shouldn't have been possible.
Until now is has apparently not been established how and when he entered Germany. If he entered Germany after December 13th directly (i.e. without passing trough another Schengen state) it would have been a failure on the part of the German authorities not to have stopped him. In the case that he entered Schengen after December 13th and Germany after that through another Schengen state, it would been a failure on the part of that state.
German politicians of the opposition are now demanding an inquiry.
Even though al-Arifi is considered a radical and a hardliner, I don't think his entry here compromised security. But I do think the instance may show that the Schengen regime is not as perfect as some say it is.