The sexual assaults in Cologne took place nearly three weeks ago.
Since then, views on mass migration into Europe do not appear to have changed substantially. We still have the same two sides: those who say we have a moral obligation to take in millions of strangers and those who see the continuing migration as destructive to Western values.
Several news stories at the weekend illustrate the two points of view.
An article in The Guardian tells us that Czech president Milos Zeman said in a television interview that integrating Muslims into Western society was ‘practically impossible’. His take is that the Muslim Brotherhood financing the migratory flow in an effort to ‘gradually control Europe’.
On the other hand, the Pope said a special Mass for 5,000 migrant worshippers at St Peter’s yesterday to mark the world day of migrants and refugees. In a separate address, he encouraged European governments to continue accommodating newcomers en masse.
The Telegraph reported on a quiet protest in Stuttgart where well-meaning Germans marched against attacks on migrants. The protest was organised by churches and trade unions. Poster slogans read ‘no sexism, no racism’.
Yet, that evening, it emerged that three adolescents of North African origin harassed and attempted to stone two middle-aged transgender persons in Dortmund, not far from the main railway station. The Telegraph has the story:
The two victims, named only as Yasmine, 50, and Elisa, 37, under Germany privacy laws, came forward in a television interview to describe how the youths turned on them when they realised they were transgender.
“Within seconds they were pushing us around. It was only then that I realised what they were saying: ‘You sluts need to be stoned!’” Elisa told Sat1 television on Saturday evening.
“And that’s what they did. They grabbed gravel from the ground and threw it at us.”
“Before that they tried to hit on us. For them, that’s OK. But when they realised we were transgender, they felt their honour was hurt. That’s why they snapped.”
Fortunately the incident was seen by a passing police patrol.
The two elder assailants — aged 17 and 18 — already have police records. The youngest, 16, was released to the custody of his parents.
That night, 300 police officers in Düsseldorf raided an area of the city dubbed ‘little Maghreb’ near the main railway station there in an attempt to arrest North African gang members responsible for what authorities described as:
bag-snatching, luggage theft, street robberies and drug offences.
Interestingly, Germany has not yet classified Morocco and Algeria as ‘safe’ countries. As a result, ‘thousands’ of asylum seekers arrived in Germany from these two nations in the latter half of last year. They have little chance of their cases being accepted. However, when Germany has attempted to deport them, their home countries have refused to take them back. Could a criminal record have anything to do with it? No doubt, Morocco and Algeria are glad to have got rid of them.
This reminds me of an anecdote I read during the Arab Spring a few years ago. The event opened up migration out of North Africa, with a number of supposedly persecuted individuals coming to Europe to pursue criminality. One law-abiding North African said they would never be allowed back to their countries of origin for that reason. But I digress.
Near Cologne, the local council of Bornheim, a town with 48,000 residents, has banned adult asylum seekers from the public swimming pool because they cannot behave themselves. Deputy mayor Markus Schnapka said that women using the pool complained they were being verbally and sexually harrassed.
The town of Rheinberg has decided to cancel its pre-Lenten carnival parade this year, given the events on New Year’s Eve in nearby Cologne. Local officials said they cannot guarantee the level of security required.
Meanwhile, Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble wants a special petrol tax applicable in all 26 Schengen countries to pay for the refugee crisis. The tax would contribute to securing the external Schengen borders against additional migrants. The truth is that Germany is overwhelmed and:
may be forced to close its own, the influential finance minister warned. Such a move could prove fatal to the Schengen Agreement.
Most ordinary people outside of Germany would simply shrug their shoulders. Getting rid of Schengen is not exactly going to inhibit free movement. It only means re-instituting passport checks at the border, which, given the present climate, is not a bad idea. The UK is not a Schengen country, and we have plenty of immigration.
Also at the weekend, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, took issue with European governments as well as refugees on the migration issue. Junker complained that migrants were ‘arrogant’ for wanting to settle in Germany. He was also upset with member states for not taking their share of newcomers. The Telegraph reported:
“We cannot have a situation where those that come to Europe then decide rather arrogantly for themselves where they want to live. That is not possible. That is absolutely not on.
“It is not the refugees responsible for dividing up refugees – it is the member states. No refugee has an innate right to decide or refuse to be sent to a particular country.”
Mr Juncker also urged nations to stop reintroducing border controls to halt the migrant flow, warning it could have “unimaginable” consequences for the economy by halting the flow of trade and ultimately destroying the single currency.
Trade would not stop because of border controls. Goods flowed freely when they were in place before Schengen, a recent agreement established in 1995 made for a time when Europe was expected to remain a relatively safe continent.
In closing, The Guardian reports that one Muslim is giving a crash course to newcomers about the German way of life. Retired pharmacist Magdi Gohary, 74, and originally from Egypt, visits a large migrant camp outside of Munich. In ‘Learn to Understand Germany’, he explains that behaviours which are illegal in Muslim countries are legal in Germany and Europe. He also tells them they will have to learn to integrate into German society in order to be accepted.
Gohary said the past year revealed a mismatch of expectations on the part of both refugees and Germans. Germans assumed the migrants would integrate easily. Migrants, on the other hand, expect much more than the government can provide.
The Guardian also interviewed a 44-year-old engineer from Morocco who, like Gohary, has lived in Germany for decades. The engineer said that it is high time that Angela Merkel reverses her migration plan. It is not working. Furthermore, it is putting law-abiding, long-term immigrants in danger from vigilante attacks. He lives in Cologne and says that the atmosphere has changed considerably since New Year’s Eve.
Thomas Bönig, who gives tours of the city, agrees. What he says was ‘joy’ a few months ago on the part of welcoming local residents has now turned to ‘frustration’. More mismatched expectations.
To be continued tomorrow.