18 Asylum Seekers Are Tied to Attacks on Women in Germany
By ALISON SMALE JAN. 8, 2016
BERLIN — The German authorities on Friday tied asylum seekers for the first time to the wave of violent assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve as debate intensified over whether the country had made a mistake in opening its doors last year to more than a million migrants.
The Interior Ministry said 18 of the 31 people identified so far as suspects in the violence in Cologne had applied for asylum in Germany. The disclosure further stoked fears about security and culture clashes between the newcomers, mostly from Muslim countries, and Germans who are confronting the costs of assimilating them.
It also turned up the pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose welcome last summer to refugees from Syria and other countries in turmoil helped encourage migrants, and whose political standing increasingly rests on how she handles the challenge of absorbing them.
Sensing the souring of the public mood, Ms. Merkel shifted tone this week from her usual credo about integrating migrants — “We can do it” — to stiff condemnation, and even contemplation of expulsions or deportation for newly arrived offenders. The sterner note was embraced by an increasing number of German politicians and officials.
The Interior Ministry identified the 31 suspects as nine Algerians, eight Moroccans, four Syrians, five Iranians, an Iraqi, a Serb, an American and two Germans. Most of the crimes they were accused of involved theft and violence, said a ministry spokesman, Tobias Plate, but at least three acts were considered sexual assaults. …
My current Taki’s Magazine column, “Forecasting a Million Muslim Mob,” is a review of psychologist Philip E. Tetlock’s Superforecasting, in which I discuss the difficulties of forecasting Merkel’s blunder, the way Jean Raspail did 42 years ago.
The single worst impediment to better forecasting is a culture in which respectable people aren’t supposed to notice the obvious precisely because it’s obvious. Dr. Merkel, for example, isn’t stupid or notably less competent than her peers; she’s just part of a zeitgeist in which there are certain things you aren’t supposed to say because they are so clearly true. But if you aren’t allowed to talk and write in public about the truth of stereotypes, it’s hard to always remember them when making decisions in private.
… It was not clear exactly when the migrants who may have been involved arrived in Germany. But the disclosure added to worries over acculturating hundreds of thousands of people from conservative Muslim societies — many of them young men — who have little experience with open European mores, particularly regarding women.
The challenge of assimilation, while most pronounced for Germany, which has accepted more migrants than any other European country, is not limited to it. Some European countries have begun experimenting with sex education classes to help men adjust to their new cultures.
I realize I’m a crackpot extremist, but it occurs to me that one thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. But Dr. Merkel earlier this week rejected the call by the head of her Bavarian sister party to announce a limit of 200,000 refugees in 2016.
Reports of sexual assaults, including the case of a woman who narrowly escaped an attack on a Paris-area train by three Afghan refugees, were now proliferating in Germany and other European countries, though it was not clear whether that was because of an increase in attacks or the surge of attention being given to the events in Cologne.
Right-wing politicians have been accused of using the episodes to play on fears of the migrants and to limit their arrivals; liberal-leaning news media and left-wing politicians have been accused of ignoring or playing down a real problem for fear of stigmatizing the new arrivals.
The atmosphere of uncertainty in Germany has only grown, as it has taken the authorities more than a week to begin to unravel events in Cologne amid accusations that they tried to cover up the backgrounds of the perpetrators. …
A report by a senior federal police official leaked to some German news media graphically depicted the chaos on Dec. 31 in Cologne, one of Germany’s most mixed cities, saying that police were unable to control the crowds, largely comprising men of Arab or North African appearance. …
The unidentified official who wrote the report — it was confirmed as genuine by the Interior Ministry, which declined to comment on its detail — said crowds showed a level of disrespect that “I have never experienced in my 29 years of service.”
The reports underscored the rising political risks for Ms. Merkel, who nevertheless still had a 58 percent approval rating in the latest polls. After a decade in office, she has effectively staked her career on integrating the newcomers and repeatedly refused to cap the influx of immigrants.