Earlier today, we brought you an eyewitness account of the melee that unfolded in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve.
Allegedly, hundreds of 18-35 year-old males “of Arab and North African origin” robbed and sexually assaulted women gathered in the city center. Assaults were also reported in Hamburg and Stuttgart. Authorities are attempting to discern if there's a connection.
Ivan Jurcevic, a hotel club bouncer who was on the job (literally) in Cologne when the trouble started, had the following to say in a video posted to social media: "These people that we welcomed just three months ago with teddy bears and water bottles ... started shooting at the cathedral dome and started shooting at police. Well seasoned police officers then confessed to me that they never saw something like this in their entire lives. They called it a 'civil war like situation.'"
Here's an account from a woman who claims to have been a victim of an assualt:
"The men surrounded us and started to grab our behinds and touch our crotches. They touched us everywhere. I wanted to take my friend and leave. I turned around, and in that moment, someone grabbed my bag."
That is of course the last thing Angela Merkel wants to hear. The Chancellor is struggling to convince Germans that Berlin’s open-door policy for Mid-East asylum seekers isn’t set to tear the country’s social fabric apart at the seams.
For some, the events that unfolded on New Year’s Eve validate concerns about the risk Germany is running by bringing 1.1 million migrants into a country with a population of just 82 million. "Mrs Merkel, is Germany 'colorful and cosmopolitan' enough for you after the wave of crimes and sexual attacks?,” AfD party leader Frauke Petry tweeted.
"Ms Merkel where are you? What do you say? This scares us!,” read a sign held by one of hundreds of protesters who gathered in the city center in Cologne on Tuesday.
For her part, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker called the attacks “unbelievable and intolerable” but then suggested that the victims should have acted different to avoid getting themselves into trouble. She also seemed to suggest that perhaps those responsible for the attacks were simply unaware of Germany’s cultural norms.
Now, Reker is drawing sharp criticism for her contention that women in Germany should adopt a “code of conduct” as a kind of rapist repellent.
“In her first public appearance since the incident, Reker instructed women on how they could protect themselves,” Huffington Post writes “The proposed code of conduct included telling women to stay in groups, not be separated, always try and keep their distance and always stay an arms length away from strangers.”
“There’s always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm’s length – that is to say to make sure yourself you don’t look to be too close to people who are not known to you, and to whom you don’t have a trusting relationship," she said. "Women would also be smart not to go and embrace everyone that you meet and who seems to be nice. Such offers could be misunderstood, and that is something every woman and every girl should protect herself from," Reker continued, digging herself an even deeper hole."
She also advised women to not be in a celebratory mood.
Needless to say, the comments created a veritable firestorm on social media.
Cologne's female mayor: women must "maintain arm's length distance to strangers". Everything about this depresses https://t.co/8qkrawHnmj
— Catherine Mayer (@catherine_mayer) January 5, 2016
— Lee Laborczfalvi (@laborcz) January 5, 2016
Unbelievable. Cologne Mayor reacts to migrant mass sexual assault by giving “guidance” to young German women on proper dress & behaviour
— A Libertarian Rebel (@A_Liberty_Rebel) January 5, 2016
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas was note amused: "I don't think much of the how-to-behave tips for women such as #anarm'slength. It is not women who are responsible, but the perpetrators," he wrote, in a tweet.
Later, Reker would say that the media made it appear as though she was confining her prevention suggestions to women when in fact, she also had advice for would-be assailants. To wit: "We need to explain to people from other cultures that the jolly and frisky attitude during our Carnival is not a sign of sexual openness."
You'd be forgiven for suggesting that perhaps some German politicians are going out of their way to avoid applying negative stereotypes to migrants.
In any event, Germany's "jolly and frisky" attitude toward refugees is disappearing quicker than a handbag in Cologne on New Year's Eve and one wonders how long it will ultimately be before the public simply revolts against a government they feel is powerless to protect their property, person, and borders.