Merkel Faces Heat Over NYE Sexual Assaults by Suspected Refugees

Of the 32 suspects for the NYE assaults, nine were Algerian, eight Moroccan, five Iranian, and four Syrian.

3 min read
Women hold up placards that read “Mrs. Merkel: Where are you? What are you saying? This worries us!”  during a protest in front of the Cologne Cathedral. (Photo: Reuters)

2016 didn’t start very well for Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. More than 121 women were reportly robbed, threatened or sexually molested at the New Year’s celebrations outside Cologne’s cathedral by young, mostly drunk, men, police said last Tuesday.

On Friday, Officials stated that nearly two dozen asylum seekers were suspected of involvement in mass assaults and muggings on New Year’s Eve in Cologne. The incident has intensified a debate about Germany’s welcome for hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Some 1.1 million migrants arrived in Germany last year, far more than in any other European country, most of them fleeing war or deprivation in the Middle East.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has resisted domestic pressure to introduce a formal cap on the numbers, repeating her “We can do this” mantra to Germans. But the Cologne attacks have deepened scepticism among the population.

Suspects Identified

Separately, German federal police said they had identified 32 people who were suspected of playing a role in the violence, 22 of whom were in the process of seeking asylum in Germany.

The federal police documented 76 criminal acts, most them involving some form of theft, and seven linked to sexual molestation.

Of the 32 suspects, nine were Algerian, eight Moroccan, five Iranian, and four Syrian. Three German citizens, an Iraqi, a Serb and a US citizen were also identified.

In response to the assaults, Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have called for tougher penalties against offending asylum-seekers.

Why Should Germans Pay?

A draft paper seen by Reuters ahead of a meeting of the party leadership in Mainz said migrants who have been sentenced to prison or probation should be ineligible for asylum.

Why should German taxpayers pay to imprison foreign criminals?

The threat of having to spend time behind bars in their home country is far more of a deterrent than a prison sentence in Germany.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, Leader of the Social Democrats (SPD)

The CDU paper calls for lower barriers to the deportation of criminal asylum seekers, increased video surveillance, and the creation of a new criminal offence of physical assault.

The attacks have raised doubts over whether Germany, which has a large Turkish Muslim community dating from an influx of workers in the 1960s and 70s, can successfully integrate the latest wave despite Merkel’s attempts at reassurance.

There are many refugees that are happy to have survived, to have made it here, and who are looking for jobs. These people who can contribute to our country are welcome. But clearly there are also some who haven’t understood what kind of opportunity they’ve been given.

Peter Tauber, General Secretary of Merkel’s Party

Unrest Among Citizens and Refugees

Cologne feels anxiety and anger about Merkel’s refugee policy. Continuous demonstrations have been staged by the citizens to make stricter policies for the incoming refugees.

She (Merkel) let in too many and now she has to see that it is just too much.

Shawn Barsohn, 17

She (Merkel) is not in control of the refugee crisis ... When I walk here at night, I feel anxious.

Maryam Dweiri, 13

Their concerns are shared by many refugees who have recently come to Germany.

Syrian Kurdish cousins Kasedli and Majed Hassan, who arrived four months ago and live in a shelter for asylum seekers an hour’s drive from Cologne, fear that the attacks will erode German compassion for the refugees.

Germany welcomed us here like no other country. Not even Arab countries want us.

Majed Hassan, 27

For those guys to do what they did is shameful. Even if they had been sober, they should not have behaved like this. It is totally barbaric.

Kasedli Hassan

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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