Assaults in Cologne: police looking for culprits
The police in Cologne have received more than 100 complaints from women who claim to have been robbed and sexually assaulted by men of "Arab or North African appearance" on New Year's Eve. Some commentators blame German Chancellor Merkel's liberal immigration policy for the attacks. For others the sudden rush of concern about women's safety is just a cover for racism.
Merkel to blame for assaults
The sexual assaults against women on New Year's Eve are a consequence of Germany's liberal refugee policy, the daily Novinar writes: "No woman deserves to become the quarry of Africans and Arabs. But was it not a woman who opened the hunting season? Angela Merkel has become the symbol of liberal naivety. She can't understand that her 'Welcome Refugees' song ends badly. ... We must avoid inciting hatred against refugees, we must carefully weigh our words and not insult the African and Arab men who are seeking a better life, people are saying. If that is really the case then we should buy flowers for our women, get down on our knees and say: 'We're sorry that in these hard times you have to live together with such men in Europe.' But if our women have their hearts in the right place they'll never forgive us as long as we don't first clean up our own back yards."
Dangerous men from foreign cultures
The incidents on New Year's Eve in Cologne are a sign of failed integration, writes the liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten, drawing parallels with Denmark: "There's no telling whether the events in Cologne are just a foretaste of what we can expect here in Denmark too, but they don't bode well because here too for many years we have kept the door open for many people who behave very differently from what we deem proper. And here too, there are fears that the problems are being hushed up. But the situation can be remedied. Masses of frustrated young men from foreign cultures, many of which glorify violence, are in our midst. This is the reality which the authorities and the population must face, and an entire generation of leading politicians must admit that they are also to blame for the current situation."
Concern for women just covert racism
The calls, mainly on social networks, for people to travel to Cologne to protect women after the assaults there are a sham, writes blogger Sascha Lobo on the Spiegel Online website: "It is instrumental racism when the very same people who the rest of the time tell women to button up suddenly start making a big deal about women's rights now. The sudden surge of interest in women's rights is a flimsy show of concern aimed at legitimising their own racism. The trivialisation of sexual violence is ubiquitous and deeply embedded in our society and culture - yes, in German culture too. The attacks against women by gangs of men in Cologne provide a very fitting opportunity to face this fact and find out why a large proportion of the German public cares so little about sexual violence - except when it is perpetrated by 'North-African or Arab-looking men'."
Society trivialises sexual assaults
The large number of incidents of sexual harassment and assault in Cologne on New Year's Eve shed light on a long-neglected problem, the liberal daily Kurier writes. "Whereas in America awareness of 'street harassment' is slowly growing, in German-speaking countries there still isn't even an appropriate term to describe it. Harassment? That still depends too much on the observer's point of view. And where there's no term for a problem, there's no problem at all - or at least no awareness of it. For example consider the debate here in Austria about the so-called bum-pinching paragraph [paragraph 128 of the Austrian penal code], which shows that even today there is still no social consensus that this constitutes sexual harassment and consequently a criminal offence. And perhaps that also explains why it took the police in Cologne so long to detect a problem at all. ... Women have to accept that things like that can happen: why else are self-defence courses for girls now practically part of the school curriculum? Why else has it become normal for parents to enrol their daughters in such courses? Because it would be irresponsible and perhaps even perilous not to. That is our Western reality."