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Refugees, sexual harassment and Angela Merkel

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Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany’s doors to a million refugees and migrants last year — three times as many as the rest of the European Union put together. Critics in Germany predicted a popular backlash, and warned that even her own Christian Democratic Party (CDU) would turn against her.

In the case of the CDU, at least, they were dead wrong. At the party’s annual congress on Dec. 15, Merkel’s speech — in which she did not retreat one inch from her frequent assertion that “we can do it” (accept and integrate the refugees) — got a 10-minute standing ovation that brought tears to her eyes.

Despite a dip in the opinion polls, she also still enjoys widespread popular support — or at least she did until the ugly events in the city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

In the crowds that gathered in front of Cologne’s railway station to celebrate the new year, hundreds of young men in gangs began harassing and robbing German women.

“All of a sudden these men around us began groping us,” one victim told German television. “They touched our behinds and grabbed between our legs. They touched us everywhere, so my girlfriend wanted to get out of the crowd. When I turned around one guy grabbed my bag and ripped it off my body.”

There were 379 complaints to the police, 40 percent of which involved sexual assault, and two accusations of rape.

Only 31 men were arrested in connection with these offenses, a police failure that caused popular outrage. But the incendiary fact — which the police at first declined to reveal — was that 18 of the 31 men arrested were asylum seekers, and all but five were Muslims. So there was a firestorm of popular protest about the Cologne attacks (which also happened on a smaller scale in Stuttgart and Hamburg).

The German authorities did their best to contain the damage. The Cologne police chief, Wolfgang Albers, was suspended for holding back information about the attacks, and in particular about the origin of the suspects.

Merkel felt obliged to promise that she will change the law that says that asylum seekers can only be forcibly sent home if they have been sentenced to at least three years in prison, and if their lives are not at risk in their home country.

The new law will say that migrants sentenced to any jail time, or even put on probation, can be sent home no matter where they come from. It’s the least she could do politically, as the extreme anti-immigrant parties are already making a meal out of the Cologne events.

But what on earth made those young Muslim men, the beneficiaries of Germany’s generosity, think they could sexually attack young German women in public (and rob them while they were doing it)?

They were not professional thieves, and I very much doubt that they would sexually attack young Muslim women in public if they were back home. I suspect that they were mostly village boys who still believe the popular Middle Eastern stereotypes about good Muslim girls whom you must not harass, and “loose” Western women who are fair game for sexual assault.

I once lived in Istanbul for a while with my wife and two little boys, and we had the same experience as most other Westerners: when my wife was out with me or with the children, she was treated with respect. When she was out alone, she was the target of constant sexual harassment.

At least once a day, as young men passed her in the crowded streets, she would suddenly experience the full frontal grab — and if she protested, they would simply laugh at her. So I taught her what a Turkish woman would say if the same thing happened, and it did help. She still got molested, but when she rebuked the attackers in Turkish they were overwhelmed with shame and panic, and disappeared into the crowd as fast as possible.

This was back when Istanbul only had 3 million people (it now has 14 million), but already my Turkish friends were moaning about how their city was being “village-ized” by people migrating from the countryside. Even Turkish women who looked too “Western” were being harassed, and they blamed the ex-villagers.

When you take in a million refugees, more than half of them from the Middle East, you may expect them to include a few religious fanatics who may be or become terrorists. They will also include a considerably larger number of ignorant hicks who think that it is not a crime or a disgrace to attack non-Muslim girls sexually.

No good deed goes entirely unpunished, and this is part of the price Germany will pay for its generosity. It’s not an unbearable price, even if it involves one or two more Islamist terrorist attacks than would otherwise have occurred — and in a couple of years most of the young Muslim men who attacked women in Cologne will have figured out that being free, as German women are, does not mean being immoral or freely available.

Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

  • DR Jensen

    “No good deed goes entirely unpunished, and this is part of the price Germany will pay for its generosity. It’s not an unbearable price, even if it involves one or two more Islamist terrorist attacks than would otherwise have occurred” — easy to say when it’s someone else paying the price, isn’t it.

    • YoDude12

      Makes me wonder if Mr. Dyer has a female wife and female daughters, or what he thinks the market rate price of rape is!

      • Christina Tsuchida

        It is probably of little importance what the sex of the victims is: rape is a crime of violence, not a sexual union.
        Why, however, does Mr. Dyer reject without giving a reason the idea that the assailants were “professional thieves”? Was not the rape and prior chicanery a means to theft for them? Were they stealing for fun (amateurs) and not for German marks (and so professionals)??

      • YoDude12

        True on the gender issue. I suppose many males are as abused as females in the islamic world. But Mr. Dyer seems to easily dismiss the rape of Euorpe by muslim invaders with his suggestion that the price hasn’t yet been fully paid. I witnessed such sexual abuse myself in Sydney, Australia (2014 New Year Celebration). Groups of muslim men stealthily surrounding non-muslim women and sexually abusing them. It happens everywhere, all the time, just as in Rotherham.

      • YoDude12

        True on the gender issue. I suppose many males are as abused as females in the islamic world. But Mr. Dyer seems to easily dismiss the rape of Euorpe by muslim invaders with his suggestion that the price hasn’t yet been fully paid. I witnessed such sexual abuse myself in Sydney, Australia (2014 New Year Celebration). Groups of muslim men stealthily surrounding non-muslim women and sexually abusing them. It happens everywhere, all the time, just as in Rotherham.

  • J_Bonaccorsi_Philadelphia

    “It’s not an unbearable price, even if it involves one or two more Islamist terrorist attacks than would otherwise have occurred ….”

    How about three?

  • rgw

    This has to do with basic beliefs about the worth and place of women in society, and what determines the level of dignity she deserves to be treated with.

    In civilized societies a woman doesn’t lose her right to dignity because of how alluring she may appear. Civilized men don’t immediately grab the crotch of every sexy-looking woman who crosses their path. I’m beyond disgusted by what these “boys” did, and even that it would occur to them to do this in their new country speaks a sense of incredible entitlement.

    Journalists should stop making any excuses for these men/boys/savages and call it what is- a clash of civilizations. If Merkel wants this experiment to succeed, she needs to give men like this the boot, asap and no second chances.

  • Christina Tsuchida

    Consider the (alas) long history of female humans of darker skin colour being sexually attacked in the USA. Study of “black” protest in America (and the reasons for that) has helped me cope with being foreign (even in peaceful Japan, those who appear to be “Americans” by racial-typing are given spicy projections of feeling).

    Now, Germany has also the Turkey (Istanbul) bombing as horrible news (of the 10 who died, 9 were Germans).
    Yet before the rapes in Germany, that country had gone with others to bomb so-called “IS” strongholds, had it not?
    Is not revenge also a possible motive for both anti-German activities (IF some of the guilty are on the side of self-styled “Islamic State”)?

    • YoDude12

      I would not style it as (the most major reason) for revenge against German participation in the bombing of Daesh/ISIS…whatever you prefer. Rather, I would point to islamic dogmatism.
      If you, or anyone, are going to respond to what I am about to say, do take the time to educate yourself on the matter prior to responding. You don’t want to be seen to be ignorant.
      Islam teaches that all humans are born muslim. Yes, all! We often hear cries from islamic apologists that islam (and muslims as its adherents) NEVER target or hurt INNOCENTS. That may be true, but those of us who are not muslims are therefore not innocent. We have forsaken islam, since we were all born muslim. What does islam teach about how the apostate should be treated? Punishment, “pure” and simple. Even death as a punishment.
      Therefore, my response to your post is that for close to 1,400 years now, the “revenge” you speak of has been forthcoming. As the population of muslims in the world rapidly accelerates since their birthrate is astronomical in comparison to the non-muslim population in most places on our planet, you will no doubt see multiple daily occurrences of we apostates receiving our just punishment.
      The impact of France, Germany, Britain, the USA, Canada, Japan, China and other dominantly non-mulsim nations of the world over the last 30 years is nothing.

      • Christina Tsuchida

        I am glad to appear ignorant so as not to mislead people with my possibly mistaken comments.
        Yet does the writer under the pseudonym YoDude 12 really propose that ALL Muslims believe all non-muslims are apostates? This could be proven mistaken by some study of, for example, the Muslim concept of “people of the book”, viz., Jews and Christians, who were permitted to live in peace in Islamic caliphates for centuries prior to the disaster called the Crusades. Relatively innocent muslims outnumber “IS”-types by far in the world. These may not change their views of female inheritance rights, but they also do not label all non-muslims “kufr” (apostate).

      • YoDude12

        Yes, I was a bit rough with the “ignorant” suggestion, but I often encounter islamic apologists who know little about islam.
        What they, muslims, believe apart from their formal doctrine is certainly not immaterial to the argument, but what the quran and hadiths teach is critical. Infidels who pay the jizya are supposed to be allowed to live as dhimmis, but often are not. They are persecuted all too frequently, and often killed – such as with the Yazidis in Iraq. If muslims actually believe what they should – what the quran/hadiths teach – apostates (all of us who don’t profess islam) are to be punished.

      • Christina Tsuchida

        I am scarcely an islamic apologist: my field was Hindu studies! I have only private, English study, and a couple of Harvard graduate school courses in Islam, and these are out-of-date.
        It IS important to distinguish the Quranic teachings (binding) from the Hadith or traditions’ teachings, which are optional (for example, I think I recall the veil or burqa is not in the Koran; Iranians in their period of friendship with America prior to the hostage crisis, for example, used no veils!!).
        Also, who are WE non-muslims to teach Muslims to kill all of us as if we were apostates? I do not teach killing. I am against even war. Yet YoDude 12 seems to say in full view of Muslims who read English that they SHOULD believe themselves bound to murder all of us non-muslims!!
        This may be a case less of ignorance than of lack of practice in inter-religious dialogue or colloquy (more than two-partner talks).
        Certainly, if the cited writer is an “apostate” s/he cannot lay down the law of belief for muslims!! This lack of authority is far more certain than any penalty of death.
        Why, for example, was there a fatwa against the author of The Satanic Verses, promising to reward his murderer, if ALL of us are to be killed? Why was that revoked?
        Jihad I have not studied well, but since the great holy war is the struggle for self-control (and the battle-field holy war is only the little jihad), I suppose that jihad is in defence of Islam, just as even Myanmar Buddhists would rise up against those who threaten their religion’s very existence (and even peaceable Krishna Consciousness followers admit they will fight if and only if their religion itself is at stake). American teaching in Islam (a Muslim man came to our grade school before 1966) used to list the seven pillars of Islam, including jihad, but nowadays that has changed to five pillars, omitting jihad. Perhaps this is because the allegorising of jihad to self-control has become incomprehensible to Americans.

  • Christina Tsuchida

    Consider the (alas) long history of female humans of darker skin colour being sexually attacked in the USA. Study of “black” protest in America (and the reasons for that) has helped me cope with being foreign (even in peaceful Japan, those who appear to be “Americans” by racial-typing are given spicy projections of feeling).

    Now, Germany has also the Turkey (Istanbul) bombing as horrible news (of the 10 who died, 9 were Germans).
    Yet before the rapes in Germany, that country had gone with others to bomb so-called “IS” strongholds, had it not?
    Is not revenge also a possible motive for both anti-German activities (IF some of the guilty are on the side of self-styled “Islamic State”)?

  • PuyiGoroIgor

    “In the crowds that gathered in front of Cologne’s railway station to
    celebrate the new year, hundreds of young men in gangs began harassing
    and robbing German women.”

    It’s possible but highly improbable that this was a spontaneous attack. Hundreds of young men ? How did they plan this and for how long ? without the authorities even getting a whiff? Thank the heavens that Germany is a country whose legal system actually works.

  • Christina Tsuchida

    Come to think of it: from this account, we do NOT know whether the rapes (only two were reported) were committed by the immigrant suspects. We also do not know whether the immigrant suspects will be found guilty of any crime.

    • dilettante

      try 631 rapes/gropes/robberies in 5 cities lady. germany announced 18 arrestss, all except 5 are muslim. yeesh some ppl will defend these muslim rapefugees to death

  • MacTire

    “…and in a couple of years most of the young Muslim men who attacked women in Cologne will have figured out that being free, as German women are, does not mean being immoral or freely available.”
    Right. And the check’s in the mail…As a former resident of Cologne, a city that prides itself on being Alice-in-Wonderland politically correct, I had a good laugh…A pious liberal, the sort of person who faithfully and non-masochistically reads the Japan Times, believes that evil, blue-eyed white males rape one out of every five women on US college campuses but that the “village male Muslim” mentality is a trivial problem of the moment.
    O tempora, o mores! What would Cicero say about today’s “journalists”?

  • Christina Tsuchida

    A person who is challenged to write in English, Dilettante, seems to have had his or her comment deleted after it was emailed to me as a reply. Please see my editing of the comment you replied to below, as a reply to you.