Germany’s new problem with refugees

The attacks in Cologne have changed perceptions of migrants and maybe the nation’s willingness to embrace them

Police officers survey the area in front of the main train station and the Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany, on January 6, 2016, where dozens of apparently coordinated sexual assaults were perpetred against women on New Year's Eve.  MAJA HITIJ/AFP/Getty Images

Police officers survey the area in front of the main train station and the Cathedral in Cologne, western Germany, on January 6, 2016, where dozens of apparently coordinated sexual assaults were perpetred against women on New Year’s Eve. MAJA HITIJ/AFP/Getty Images

Considering that upwards of one million migrants and refugees poured into Germany in 2015—about five times the number of arrivals during the previous year—the level of social peace and the sense of hospitality that had prevailed until now in Germany is remarkable.

There was some backlash to the refugee influx last year. PEGIDA, a right-wing, anti-Islam movement, could draw about 10,000 people on to the streets at rallies in the fall. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who broke with her decade-long practice of cautious incrementalism to throw open Germany’s doors to migrants, saw her seemingly impervious political armour dented. Her own finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in November criticized her for triggering an “avalanche” of refugees into Germany with what he likened to a bit of careless skiing.

Yet in her New Year’s Eve address to Germans, Merkel felt confident enough to double-down on her refugee policy. Wearing a festive red dress, she acknowledged the “major challenge” presented by integrating so many refugees but said they were also an “opportunity” for the country’s future. Germany can meet the challenge, she said.

The challenges—including providing housing, health care and schooling for so many, so quickly—are real. Nevertheless, when Merkel spoke those words, many of her fellow citizens likely agreed with her. But the chancellor’s timing was terrible.

Elsewhere in Germany that night, events were taking place that may severely erode Germans’ willingness to accept so many newcomers, and at the same time weaken the the German chancellor who’s seen as responsible for inviting them in the first place.

On the crowded public square outside Cologne’s main train station, more than 100 women were sexually assaulted or robbed by gangs of men described as appearing to be Arab or North African. The men, hundreds of them, surrounded the women and prevented them from leaving while stealing their phones and wallets and groping them. At least two women were allegedly raped. Similar attacks took place in Hamburg and Stuttgart.

Germans are furious—at what they say was the slow response of the police, at the absence of any arrests (as of Wednesday night), and at the initially tepid reaction to the attacks by German media. Some anti-migrant activists and commentators have said media organizations downplayed or ignored the assaults because they didn’t want to stir anger directed against refugees in Germany.

German authorities have said there’s no evidence that any of the refugees who recently arrived in Germany were among the attackers. Cologne is an ethnically diverse city, and it’s possible the attackers have been in Germany for years or were born there.

But that the attackers appear to have origins in the same parts of the world from where Germany’s more recent influx of migrants comes will inevitably colour the debate about Germany’s current migration policy.

Germans know their country is rich. Many take pride in the leading role it has played in meeting the migrant crisis facing Europe and were likely willing to shoulder their share of the resulting financial burden resulting, at least in the short term, from absorbing so many migrants. Many were also willing to embrace an evolving German identity that is no longer as tied to ethnicity as it once was.

But the attacks in Cologne were something different. They are perceived by some as reflecting an unbridgeable gap—especially concerning the rights of women—between Arab and Muslim cultures and values, and German ones. The challenge faced by Merkel and others attempting to convince Germans that they can and should welcome hundreds of thousands of migrants is now more difficult.


Germany’s new problem with refugees

  1. This is not new. It ha been happening in Sweden and Norway as well. To the extent that the authorities want to have anti rape classes. It is so absurd to imagine something so ridiculous unless you are a “progressive”.

    • Macleans is now deleting comments it seems to disagree with. It’s happened to me a few times now, but the last incident just ticked me off. In reference to the below story at the link (from Macleans) I wrote the following for the 2nd time, as in the first case it was deleted.

      here is the story:


      And here was my response to it (again):

      1. I see that the comment I had posted earlier has been removed. I guess the folks at Macleans don’t like to be called out so publicly.
      If you want to prevent it in the future, then perhaps you should stop posting garbage on your site.
      I’ll give a quick recap, in the event that my post was simply mistakenly removed.
      The article includes this comment:
      “On Jan. 7, 2015, two French-born brothers killed 11 people inside the building where Charlie Hebdo operated, as well as a Muslim policeman outside. Over the next two days, an accomplice shot a policewoman to death, then stormed a kosher supermarket, killing four hostages. All three gunmen died.”
      And I pointed out the errors and corrected your copy.
      The author wrote “two brothers, as opposed to, Two Muslim brothers, and then goes on to include, “As well as a Muslim policeman outside” as though to make it look like Muslim’s were the victims of this attack as opposed to the perpetrators of the attack. It then goes on to mention the killing of four hostages, but fails to note that these weren’t people killed simply because they were hostages. they were killed by MUSLIMS simply because they were jewish. These were NOT people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. These were people who were specifically targeted because they were jewish.
      Now, in the event another “mistake” results in this posting being removed, just be aware…you aren’t fooling anyone. In fact, you should be ashamed not for the blatant twisting and omission of facts to hide what really happened here, but you should be ashamed for being so pathetically predictable.
      You should be embarrassed to post such a fatuously Politically correct piece of garbage as the above article and consider it news. The fact you have removed my previous post; and most likely will remove this one as well….tells me that you already are.

      How predictably sad, that the Canadian medis is more concerned about the feelings of Islamic extremists as opposed to their victims.

      • You will find this “Media” self censorship in a majority of western media outlets especially CBC. MACLEAN’S is not alone in showing their editorial bias.

  2. “They are perceived by some as reflecting an unbridgeable gap—especially concerning the rights of women—between Arab and Muslim cultures and values, and German ones. ”
    Perceived? What an absurd resort to political correctness. There is an unbridgeable gap, and there has been one for centuries.

  3. “The challenge faced by Merkel and others attempting to convince Germans that they can and should welcome hundreds of thousands of migrants is now more difficult.”
    Thank God. What the Germans should do, in their own best interests, is ride Merkel out of town on a rail.

  4. Germany can meet the challenge, she said. Right. Germans can surrender.

  5. It was leaked by police that at least one man said he was from Syria and another ripped up his amnesty card saying he can get another from the prime minister of Germany because she invited him. This need to cover up is quite disconcerting. Also attacks took place in three German cities not just Cologne as originally reported. The police were outnumbered and ill equipped to deal with the attacks. One stupid mayor told woman to stay an arm’s length away from a man as though that is helpful.

    • Ok.

      Looks like it’s time for German women to be allowed to hold “concealed carry” permits. The only thing these animals understand is force. If you grope a german woman in the future, be prepared to get shot in the face.

      Lord knows the cops won’t protect you.

  6. I was on another site where women were discussing the issues of rape when it comes to African and Muslim men. Her comment was:

    “I’ve just bought a new rape whistle. It goes…A La La La La La La La La La La Lu….”

  7. I can’t think of a better way for male migrants to make themselves unwelcome in any country.

  8. Why are refugees and “problem” in Germany, but a virtue here?

    • Eddy,

      Aside from the slight indication in this article about right-wing groups, one simply has to watch the CBC to see the mindset and landscape of the “Liberal-biased media’

      It would seem that the rape and assault of 100’s of German women and girls is not as much of a problem as the potential backlash. Apparently, when the people of Germany don’t want their women to be raped and they come out and protest it…..they are labelled as “far-right” and “fringe”, or extremists.

      So, it isn’t the RAPE of European women by African or Muslim men that is the real problem…..it is the REACTION to it that is the serious threat.

      Glad we sorted that one out.

  9. I worked in the Middle east for a while, and during one trip overseas I was in a mall in Saudi Arabia. I was with an acquaintance from the region, (at some chain store called BURGER QUEEN, believe it or not) and we were seated near a Saudi man and his family. He had two women in full burqu’s with just a slit for the eyes, and three kids; two girls, and one boy, aged about 9 7 and 4 respectively. the little boy was a hellion, and when the mother (I’m assuming) grabbed the little boy by the arm and pulled him into a chair, the man grabbed her by the back of her neck and slammed her head onto the table. he then punched her in the back of the head twice, and then started slapping her on the face. When I saw this I got up, but my acquaintance grabbed me and held me there. he told me that the man was important, and if I did something about it I would end up being beaten and in a Saudi jail. Apparently, this is the “NORM” for most muslim countries.

    If women from these countries ever manage to make it to Canada, let them stay. Don’t let any of the adult males in; as apparently this mindset is how they are raised.

    • To read more, be sure to pick up jameshalifax’s self-published dramedy novel, about one man who goes to the Middle East and shows those people what’s what, or at least he would if his meddling acquaintance Cato didn’t keep messing things up.

      • Not surprised that Tresus thinks a Muslim Dude pounding a woman is just another example of multiculturalism.

        • Apparently reading is hard.
          However, writing fiction is easy!

          • Here Tresus….little more fiction for you. It’s about a well known case of ONE woman being sexually assaulted and beaten. Now multiply this woman’s experience by 600 or more..and you get an idea of what Germany (and the West in General) has done by letting in hundreds of thousands of violent young Muslim men who think of women is worthless chattel.

            If you have a sister…….make her read this. (of course, we both know that you won’t bother to read it either)


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