Angela Merkel's Cologne Test The New Yorker
TIME magazine named Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel Person of the Year. As the most prominent political leader in Europe, Merkel, who is a former research scientist born and raised in what was known as East Germany, has been chancellor since 2005, enjoying widespread respect and high approval ratings both at home and globally.
Faced with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees pouring into Europe, Merkel recently led programs to take large numbers of refugees into Germany. Her motives are both humanitarian and pragmatic, as she seeks to shore up a youth labor shortage that is critical to maintain Germany's economy. the largest in Europe.
Over the New Years holiday, Germany experienced significant attacks of a wide-ranging nature on women living there. Writing for The New Yorker, Amy Davidson describes the scene -- NPR estimates that 1000 men gathered by Cologne's famous cathedral and central hub train station -- on New Year's Eve in Cologne as reported in Der Spiegel:
That night, as revellers filled the station platforms and—following a dubious German tradition—tossed firecrackers, they were pushed out into already crowded streets. There, groups of men who, according to eye-witness accounts and subsequent police investigations, were primarily foreigners from nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, targeted women and surrounded them. Some of the men groped and taunted them, while others stole their wallets and their cell phones. Women, accompanied or not, literally ran a ‘gauntlet’ through masses of heavily intoxicated men that words cannot describe.” The atmosphere was “chaotic and shameless.” Women reported men grabbing at their breasts and between their legs, among other violent and sexual assaults. With the press of the crowd, there was nowhere for the women to go and, although they screamed for help, the police had no effective response; the report described them as overwhelmed, and some witnesses said that they seemed to stand by in confusion. The police report expressed relief that no one was killed, but that appears to have been a matter of luck, not the result of any actions on the part of law enforcement. The chief of police has already been pushed into early retirement.
"A lot happened on New Year's Eve in Cologne, much of it contradictory, much of it real, much of it imagined," wrote the staff of Der Spiegel, who obtained an internal police document about the night's events. "Some was happenstance, some was exaggerated and much of it was horrifying."
The Cologne police chief described the assailants as 'Arab or North African' in appearance. The horrors of that night have unleashed a debate throughout Germany and into Europe. Two days ago Swedish police were accused of covering up sex attacks by refugees at a music festival. Reports have emerged of attacks on women in Malmö on New Year’s Eve.
At the time of Amy's writing on Jan. 10, about 200 complaints had been filed with more probably coming. Today The Telegraph reports over 600 complaints with about 45 percent being for sexual assault. More than 40 politicians from Merkel's own Christian Democrat party are reportedly signing a petition to close Germany's borders to asylum seekers. They are calling for a vote at the next party meeting on January 26. Reports are that about half of the refugees into Germany do not qualify for refugee status. Deporting them is a significant challenge, however.
AOC will write further on this topic. ~ Anne