Some of those involved in a series of sexual assaults against women in the German city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve claimed to be Syrian refugees, according to a leaked police report. The outbreak of violence was also far more serious than previously thought, and at one point senior police officers feared “there could have been fatalities”. Two [it’s more now] publications have released what they claim is an internal report by a senior officer who was at the scene… But the leaked police report, published in Bild newspaper and Spiegel, a news magazine, claims that one of those involved told officers: “I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me.”
Another tore up his residence permit before the eyes of police, and told them: “You can’t do anything to me, I can get a new one tomorrow.”
A local newspaper reported that fifteen asylum-seekers from Syria and Afghanistan were briefly held by police on New Year’s Eve in connection with the sex attacks but were released.
The Express newspaper quoted an unnamed police officer who said his squad had detained several people who had “only been in Germany for a few weeks…Of these people, 14 were from Syria and one was from Afghanistan. That’s the truth. Although it hurts,” he said.
The reported comment is hearsay, and I suspect that we will never know much about those who were “briefly detained”. What’s more, collective guilt should not apply to asylum-seekers any more than to anyone else. But still…
The Daily Telegraph adds:
If confirmed, the report could have far-reaching consequences for Angela Merkel’s government as it tries to deal with the aftermath of the assaults.
I doubt it. Germany’s worst postwar chancellor seems set on sticking to her course (fueled, I can only assume, by a bizarre blend of pathological altruism and narcissism) regardless of the fact that it appears highly unlikely to end well.
Angela Merkel attended a meeting on Wednesday with representatives of the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), after a tense previous appearance in November alongside state premier Horst Seehofer. Meeting with CSU representatives in the Bavarian town of Wildbad Kreuth, Merkel again rejected proposals for capping the number of refugees allowed into Germany in 2016.
And then there’s this, via the Washington Post:
[I]n Germany, the government is effectively enforcing civility, taking aim at a surge of hate speech against refugees and Muslims. As Western Europe’s most populous nation grapples with a historic wave of mostly-Muslim migrants, politicians and activists are decrying a rash of incendiary speech bubbling to the surface of German society. In a country whose Nazi past led to some of the strictest laws in the West protecting minorities from people inciting hatred, prosecutors are launching investigations into inflammatory comments as judges dole out fines, even probation time, to the worst offenders.
German authorities, meanwhile, have reached a deal with Facebook, Google and Twitter to get tougher on offensive content, with the outlets agreeing to apply domestic laws, rather than their own corporate policies, to reviews of posts.
Some of the comments cited—I don’t know how representative they are—are indeed disgusting, That said, there is (very evidently) no First Amendment in Europe and‘hate speech’ can be a conveniently elastic concept for authoritarians on the make.
Back to the Washington Post:
Critics call it the enforcement of political correctness, raising the question of what constitutes hate speech and sparking a national debate over free expression. Germans have been outraged, for instance, by reports of more than 100 sexual assaults and robberies in the city of Cologne allegedly committed by gangs of young Arab and North African men on New Year’s Eve. Some Germans are questioning whether their online comments could be taken down, or whether they could be charged with incitement, for publicly pondering whether refugees could have been among the assailants.
And then there’s this (the BBC reports), from Ralf Jaeger, North Rhine-Westphalia’s (Social Democratic) interior minister (my emphasis added):
Scores of women say they were robbed or sexually assaulted by men, reportedly of Arab or North African appearance. Mr Jaeger also warned that anti-immigrant groups were trying to use the attacks to stir up hatred against refugees.
“What happens on the right-wing platforms and in chat rooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women,” he said. “This is poisoning the climate of our society.”
Just think about that for a second.
The [Cologne] events have since come to dominate German media, but following a barrage of complaints on social media that the New Year’s Eve events were deliberately under-reported amid fears they would encourage anti-immigrant sentiment, Germany’s public broadcaster, ZDF, was forced to apologise for its decision not to report on the attacks until Tuesday, four days after they had occurred.
“The news situation was clear enough,” the show’s deputy chief editor, Elmar Thevessen, wrote on the Heute (Today) programme’s Facebook page. “It was a mistake of the 7pm Heute show not to at least report the incidents.”
Andreas Scheuer of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU, accused the media of exercising too much caution and forming a “cartel of silence”.
I will quote this from Mark Steyn, yet again:
If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones.
I will also mention, again, that the Roosevelt Foundation has just decided to give Angela Merkel its international Four Freedoms Award.
One of FDR’s ‘four freedoms’ was, of course, freedom of speech.