Migrants were yesterday accused of further sexual assaults in Germany – after Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed stricter laws regulating asylum seekers after a string of New Year’s Eve attacks.
A gang of up to 15 ‘foreign men’ were alleged to have ‘indecently touched’ two women outside a nightclub in Munich – adding to around 150 reports of attacks across five German cities.
Yesterday Mrs Merkel announced plans to tighten up the law on denying the right of asylum for those who have committed crimes.
The news came after she faced renewed criticism for her open-door policy, which saw 1.1 million migrants enter the country in 2015.
Opponents of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) protest against a PEGIDA rally in Cologne
Police drive back right-wing demonstrators using a water cannon during protests in Cologne, Germany,
A man holds up a sign reading “No violence against women” as he takes part in a demonstration in front of the cathedral in Cologne
The latest attacks add to the scores of cases across Germany of women being attacked by ‘organised Arab or North African gangs’ on December 31.
Yesterday, a march by the German far-Right group Pegida through the streets of Cologne had to be dispersed by police water cannon.
In the central square where hundreds of women last week ran a gauntlet of groping hands, police weathered a storm of fireworks, stones and beer bottles.
Pepper spray was also used and the demonstration was cancelled. Police warned the protesters via loudspeakers they faced truncheon charges and arrest unless the mood calmed down.
Pegida members chanted: ‘We are the people!’ – the slogan of the ‘Velvet Revolutionaries’ of 1989 in East Germany who took on the power of the Communist state.
Pegida has attracted a strong following since mass immigration began into Germany.
There was also a ‘flashmob’ of thousands of women with placards saying ‘No violence against women’.
Authorities sent 1,700 police on to the streets to keep the groups apart.
Media websites reported that there were even officers on duty in the main station toilets in a bid to prevent a recurrence of the frightful New Year’s Eve scenes.
One of the speakers to the mob was former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, who will be leading a march by the UK branch of Pegida in Birmingham next month.
He told the crowd: ‘The more Muslims who come to Germany, the more likely it is that they will erect Sharia law.’
The co-founder of Pegida, Lutz Bachmann, posted a photo of himself on social media with the slogan ‘Rape Refugees Not Welcome’. In a similar vein, a leader of the populist Right-wing Alternative For Germany party, which has attracted around ten per cent support in surveys ahead of state elections this year, claimed that the events gave a ‘taste of the looming collapse of culture and civilisation.’
Mrs Merkel said her proposal, which will be discussed with her coalition partners and would need parliamentary approval, would help Germany deport serial offenders convicted of lesser crimes.
She said: ‘This is in the interests of the citizens of Germany, but also in the interests of the great majority of the refugees who are here.
‘Serial offenders who consistently, for example, return to theft or time and again insult women must count on the force of the law.’
Cologne’s police chief was sacked on Friday amid mounting criticism of his force’s handling of the incidents and accusations that it was slow in releasing information about the attacks for fear of inflaming racial tension.
Identical sex attacks have been reported in Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria, sparking fears they were co-ordinated.
Apprentice star and Muslim businesswoman Saira Khan was shocked that the liberal response to the attacks in Cologne was to not address that the attackers were African and Arab men
As an Asian woman, I know misogyny all too well
COMMENT By Saira Khan, Apprentice star and Muslim businesswoman
When the news broke about these assaults, I was shocked and dismayed that the liberal response of officials in Germany and of broadcasters here was not to address the ‘elephant in the room’: that they were all carried out by African and Arab men who were either migrants or asylum seekers.
Not addressing this profound clash of cultures only promises to make things worse.
Having grown up in an Asian Muslim household and community in Britain, I can recognise the symptoms all too clearly. Along with my female Asian friends, I saw Asian men ‘get away with murder’, while as girls, we were strictly controlled – what we said, who we said it to, where we went, what we wore, who we married. As women, our conduct, behaviour and reputation all had a bearing on the family’s ‘honour’ – and to dishonour the family could mean death.
The Asian culture I grew up in was misogynistic – and it still is.
My husband and I have travelled and worked in North Africa, Pakistan and the Middle East, and the common experience is that as a woman, I am not allowed to walk alone and have to follow a strict code of dress (covering up arms, legs and body) when out in public.
In 2007, I was asked by the BBC to travel to Pakistan and make a documentary. One particular shoot was to take place on the day when the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday was celebrated. My all-male British team were nervous because thousands of Pakistani men were to gather in a square and I was to report from the crowd.
I was determined to do the piece and naively I thought: ‘Nothing will happen to me, it’s a spiritual day.’ I was dressed in the native shalwaar kameez – long baggy trousers and a tunic to cover my body. I wore a scarf around my head to show respect. All that was visible were my hands and face. With much persuasion, my director David allowed me to walk by myself near a crowd of men.
Having grown up in an Asian Muslim household and community in Britain, Ms Khan can recognise the symptoms all too clearly. Pictured, groups of young men gather in front of the main railway station in Cologne on New Year’s Eve – when over 100 women have reported they were sexually assaulted or robbed
Here in the West, we need to stop burying our heads in the sand and accept that Asian, Arab and African men grow up in societies where misogyny is the cultural norm, argues Ms Khan. Pictured, firecrackers being set off outside Cologne’s central station on New Year’s Eve
I realised within five minutes what an idiot I had been – I was the only woman in this crowd. I was spotted and within minutes a group of men had circled me and hands were all over me while bodies pressed up against mine. I was rescued by our burly ‘fixer’ who carried me out. I was shaking and shocked – and I was angry at myself for being so naive after everything I had grown up with.
Understanding how African and Asian men view and treat women in their own countries is crucial when dealing with the migrant crisis – because only when we understand their cultural practices can we help them to integrate. They need to understand that women are deemed equal to men in Western societies.
Here in the West, we need to stop burying our heads in the sand and accept that Asian, Arab and African men grow up in societies where misogyny is the cultural norm. We need to talk about it so we can change it.
Ignoring it, like the BBC did, is just condoning it. If we are allowing people to come in, we must also make sure that we are not blinded by some truths which are hard to swallow. It is a betrayal of the truth, of the majority of decent migrants and – most of all – of women who must not see progress turned back for the sake of accommodating a medieval world view.