It only took hours until the backlash started. As investigators were still examining the site of a truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, right-wing politicians in Germany and across Europe demanded a tougher stance on immigration. Some even described the victims of Monday's attack as "Angela Merkel's fatalities."

The attack, along with the news on Wednesday that German officials are searching for a Tunisian asylum seeker whose identity papers were found inside the truck used in the assault, will likely play into the hands of populists who are on the rise in several European nations, including in Germany. That has some of the almost 1 million refugees who arrived in Germany last year afraid of renewed political backlash against them.

"People are shocked, especially those who helped refugees during the crisis," said Khaild Alaboud, a 32-year-old Syrian journalist living in Berlin who came to the country with the help of Reporters without Borders, an NGO that supports journalists around the world. Like many other refugees living in Germany, Alaboud fears that his German neighbors and friends will become suspicious of him as the result of crimes committed by others.

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