Cologne Police Chief Forced to Resign
January 8, 2016 2:02 PM   Subscribe

After more than 100 women and girls came forward with reports of sexual assault and robbery by gangs of men in the German city of Cologne on New Year's Eve, Cologne's police chief has been removed from his post.

Cologne Mayor ridiculed for her proposed guidelines for a 'code of conduct' to prevent sexual assault: including sticking to a group of trusted acquaintances, asking for help from others and informing the police. But it was her suggestion that women should keep at "an arm's length" from strangers that has triggered most outrage on social media, with the phrase turned into a hashtag - #EineArmLaenge - on Twitter. Thousands of messages have been posted using the phrase.

Guardian: "'I’ve never experienced anything like that': Cologne in deep shock over attacks"

Guardian: "Let’s not shy away from asking hard questions about the Cologne attacks"
posted by marienbad (322 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the second Guardian link:
But that’s not quite why it has taken nearly a week to piece together the story of a spate of muggings and sexual attacks carried out that night by seemingly organised gangs of young men. Many Germans are asking why politicians, police and broadcasters seem so reluctant to discuss what happened under cover of the crowds (the state broadcaster EZF [sic, should be ZDF] apologised for not covering the attacks until Tuesday), and whether it’s because the attackers are widely described as looking Arab or north African. Which is why, of course, liberals like me are reluctant to talk about it.
posted by Emma May Smith at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


including sticking to a group of trusted acquaintances, asking for help from others... keep at "an arm's length" from strangers

Funny how many rape prevention tips come down to "make sure somebody else gets raped instead".
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [85 favorites]


A large group, numbering around 1,000, had gathered inside and in front of the station in the western city.
Victims described chaos as the men carried out dozens of sexual assaults and robberies with little apparent response from the authorities.


This was a total police failure. Firing the chief obviously had to happen but I hope there are more repercussions than just that. It takes a pretty broken system to allow something on this scale to go on.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:26 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


because the attackers are widely described as looking Arab or north African. Which is why, of course, liberals like me are reluctant to talk about it.

The radio reports I've listened to have mentioned that one of the main reasons that people did not report anything was fear of being labelled a racist or "Islamophobic". And while I do not doubt that racism and Islamophobia are playing a part in how refugees and migrants are being received across Europe, it is sad that people are so afraid of how they might be perceived that they would ignore a crime than do the right thing and report it. It's a complicated fucking mess.
posted by Fizz at 2:38 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]




It is just being reported that something similar happened in Zurich on the same night. That's in addition to the incidents in Hamburg and Stuttgart that were previously reported on.

How did it happen that such similar and co-ordinated assaults took place in so many different places at the same time?
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


How was this planned? Surely there must have been some coordination to get 1,000 people to a place to do something on the same night.
posted by flippant at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is there any more information on what led the perpetrators to gather like this in the first place? I've seen suggestions that it was "coordinated" in some way, but haven't been able to find any details on that.

I can just barely conceive of these attacks as a kind of emergent product of patriarchy, intoxication, resentment, social networks, and herd behavior. I'm not sure whether that would be better or worse than knowing that somebody planned this shit.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 2:52 PM on January 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


Um, jinx.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 2:52 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The radio reports I've listened to have mentioned that one of the main reasons that people did not report anything was fear of being labelled a racist or "Islamophobic". And while I do not doubt that racism and Islamophobia are playing a part in how refugees and migrants are being received across Europe, it is sad that people are so afraid of how they might be perceived that they would ignore a crime than do the right thing and report it. It's a complicated fucking mess.

It seems from this report that women who attempted to make reports on the night were treated pretty dismissively. Complicated fucking mess indeed.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


As always, Ayesha Siddiqi's tweets are worth reading.
posted by maupuia at 2:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I find it chilling that the the mayor being ridiculed was almost assassinated over this issue in October:

In the fury following her remarks there was little room for any recollection of how she herself narrowly survived an assassination attempt on the eve of the mayoral election in October when her windpipe was sliced through by a knife-bearing man who resented her support for refugees.

She fumbled in her response but it also sounds she is trying to navigate this crisis without resorting to bigotry and hatred.
posted by ianhattwick at 2:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


Is there any more information on what led the perpetrators to gather like this in the first place?
It was New Year's Eve, hence the large gathering of people.
posted by dadaclonefly at 2:59 PM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


The reported background of the assailants is a bit of a red herring- the failure of police to monitor and control a group of over 1000 young people, particularly young men, around a train station at nighttime on a holiday represents a serious problem at command level, not to mention the dismissive response to reports of the assault. "We didn't want to take too aggressive a stance because they were Arab or North African," strikes me as a cop-out.

Certainly there are questions to be asked about the alienation of young people of immigrant background in Germany, but those questions are no different now than they were before New Year's Eve.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:03 PM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


Regarding the coordination, here's an eyewitness in The Guardian:

'Describing what she called “coordination tactics” among the men, Shabani said: “I watched for some time as three men who were smartly dressed gave out instructions. One time a group of three or four males would come up to them, be given instructions and sent away into the crowd. Then another group of four or five would come up, and they’d gesticulate in various directions and send them off again.”'
posted by sobarel at 3:07 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


I like the proactive approach:
Norway teaches classes on sex and consent to new immigrants.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


She fumbled in her response but it also sounds she is trying to navigate this crisis without resorting to bigotry and hatred.

Putting the responsibility for preventing rape on to women is pretty bigoted. It is possible to avoid being bigoted towards migrants without resorting to victim blaming. Not to mention that the advice in the code of conduct is lousy. It's impossible to stay 'arm's length' away when you're surrounded by a gang of people.

It's terrible that this story has immediately been framed in an anti-migrant way. Obviously because of the racism of that approach but also because it's pushing to the side what actually happened to these women and the ineffective policing that allowed it to happen.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


I'm somewhat suspect that the reason this is getting attention is because the attackers were non-white, thus feeding into the "scary foreign men taking our women" narrative. It was New Years Eve, a holiday night where many people get drunk in large crowds. I'm more curious if there aren't spikes in robberies and sexual assault on this day everywhere, every year, and on other holidays like this as well (e.g mardi gras, spring break... I'm not sure of the German equivalents)--only it's easier to sweep under the rug when there's no common factor among the assailants.
posted by picklenickle at 3:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Daily Telegraph runs the story with the headline 'Multicultural Europe has Failed,' while over at the Daily Mail, the phrase 'migrant sex mob' effortlessly enters the vocabulary.
posted by colie at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2016


She fumbled in her response but it also sounds she is trying to navigate this crisis without resorting to bigotry and hatred.

But it wasn't a fumble: it was a pretty honest reflection of the way that blame and responsibility gets tossed onto women all the time no matter what the situation. One suspects that if the attackers had been women or the victims men the response would have been much less victim-blaming.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


As always, Ayesha Siddiqi's tweets are worth reading.

Really? I basically agree with where she's coming from, but reading over them now I think they're pretty weak stuff. She does the thing I catch myself doing sometimes of arguing and pointing in different directions -- questioning the extent that it happened at all because "cop accounts", bringing up St Patty's day parades, saying that white women grope and harass WOC too -- that one does when deeply uncomfortable with the truth of something that happened. To some extent it's probably just a weakness of Twitter, but I think it illustrates exactly the kind of thing that the second Guardian piece is about. Because from everything we've heard so far, this really was a coordinated mob of North Africans, as much as that might be a horrible racist trope out of a Nazi's fantasies. And the left needs to be able to sit with that, to acknowledge that sometimes things that play into their opponents' hands actually happen, and to still continue to press its points and arguments anyway, rather than just yelling "But..! But..!"
posted by goodnight to the rock n roll era at 3:19 PM on January 8, 2016 [71 favorites]


As always, Ayesha Siddiqi's tweets are worth reading.

No, they're not. Unless you are seeking the kind of kneejerk comment that asperses everybody but the attacker.

For example:
white women yr protection has always been the available guise for policing men of color here+abroad be careful how yr deploying yourselves

soliciting empathy for a nonwhite/not cis woman would have done more for all women than once again centering white(passing) womanhood

bc white womanhood is/always has been/was designed to be uniquely positioned to justify structural +imperial violence
posted by Emma May Smith at 3:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


As always, Ayesha Siddiqi's tweets are worth reading.

Really?


The tweet about an Islamophobe calling her a kebab because he couldn't come up with an actual slur was hilarious though.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


from everything we've heard so far, this really was a coordinated mob of North Africans

From the Guardian: "Of the 31 people identified, nine were Algerian, eight Moroccan, five Iranian, four Syrian and two German, plus an Iraqi, a Serb and a US citizen."
posted by colie at 3:21 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Some reports are linking the attacks to a criminal gang from Dusseldorf that has used similar tactics in the past. [link has autoplaying video] That could explain the co-ordination to some extent.

The Guardian eyewitness report linked above mentions that harassment happened in Helsinki and Sweden too. Finnish police were apparently tipped off about 'plans by groups of asylum seekers to sexually harass women'.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


If only there were some well-known link between systemic racism and gangs we could be reminding people about...
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm somewhat suspect that the reason this is getting attention is because the attackers were non-white, thus feeding into the "scary foreign men taking our women" narrative. It was New Years Eve, a holiday night where many people get drunk in large crowds.

I've been groped in drunken crowds. There is sadly nothing strange about that. A group of 1,000 men gathering in one spot to create gauntlets of sexual assaulters is. While, yes, racists are leaping all over this and playing up that angle, this is also getting a lot of attention because of the size of the crowd and the terror that it created for a large number of women who just wanted to go and see some fireworks. As it should: this is an appalling thing to happen whoever is responsible and it was clearly assault on a mass scale of a large number of women. It should be getting attention. It should be something we work hard to ensure doesn't happen again - and by working hard I don't mean 'women should stay in groups and not be within arm's length of men they don't know.'
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:40 PM on January 8, 2016 [57 favorites]


In Amsterdam, there is an ongoing debate about how transparent the government should be when asylum seekers commit crimes. On the one hand, when they left it out as relevant information, it usually circulated anyhow and only added mistrust of the government to the mix. On the other hand, if they shared the role of asylum seekers, then that was nearly always the angle picked up by the media, regardless of anything else. How do you get to transparent without being irresponsible?

What will be interesting now is the push to deport anyone proven to be involved. Apparently even parts of the Syrian refugee community is calling for immediate deportation as a response. To make that happen, however, would mean fundamentally weakening the legal protections which asylum seekers currently have in Europe.
posted by frumiousb at 3:42 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here's an article in the Daily Beast on the subject.

Yes, it is racist to suspect that all brown men who look like me are rapists. It is bigoted to presume that all Muslim men who share my faith advocate religiously justified rape. It is xenophobic to assume that all male refugees are sexual predators awaiting their chance to rape. But let me be absolutely clear: What will feed this racism, bigotry, and xenophobia even more is deliberately failing to report the facts as they stand. Doing so only encourages the populist right’s rallying cry against “the establishment.”
posted by frumiousb at 3:47 PM on January 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


And while I do not doubt that racism and Islamophobia are playing a part in how refugees and migrants are being received across Europe, it is sad that people are so afraid of how they might be perceived that they would ignore a crime than do the right thing and report it.

It seems like reverse racism should be redefined as going out of one's way to treat members of an oppressed minority group with kid gloves even when those individuals who happen to belong to that group are doing something clearly wrong out of fear of "looking racist" (or like any other sort of bigot), because it's fucking backasswards.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:50 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


What ever happened to firing people instead of "forcing them to resign"?
posted by srboisvert at 3:55 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The classes should be mandatory.
posted by brujita at 3:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Some public offices aren't positions a person can be fired from; you pressure the person to resign in that case because the alternative is forcing them out through some more complicated procedure like impeachment or recall. Might be the case here.
posted by cortex at 3:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here's an interesting article - How to deal with the sexual assaults in Cologne and Hamburg - written by Musa Okwonga, a black man from West Africa living in Germany.

He's very good on Germany's problems with race, and also on how the women affected by the attacks get left aside in the debate as everyone sees an opportunity to start grinding their favourite axes.
posted by sobarel at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2016 [37 favorites]



I like the proactive approach:
Norway teaches classes on sex and consent to new immigrants.


Certainly better than having the police and court system teach immigrants about local mores.

And certainly way the hell better than NOT having the police and court system teach immigrants about local mores.
posted by ocschwar at 4:07 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The classes should be mandatory.

And not only for immigrants!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:13 PM on January 8, 2016 [41 favorites]


Yes, school aged kids should be learning this in their civics/sex ed classes.
posted by brujita at 4:19 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I read about this a few days ago, and the response to the news has been bothering me ever since. Not the predictable hysteria from the Daily Mail and its ilk; they will seize on anything that could be interpreted to support their classist, racist, sexist, views and put it on the front page in screaming 72-pt font. That this event came gift-wrapped with a bow on it for them makes me all the more unsurprised at that reaction.

No, what's been bothering me is the reaction of those of us "on the other side." Metafilter is part of my liberal internet "echo chamber" to which I hew, as I frankly feel quite well apprised already of the other viewpoints out there. So before this story was discussed today on Metafilter, I had encountered it a few times after it first appeared on the BBC (where I saw it, and which mercifully didn't have comments enabled).

It bothers me that my progressive bubble, which was so adamant about Cosby's crimes, about Gamergate, about any other ripple of misogyny making the news, all of a sudden became rather tight-lipped. Comments were brief, and fairly neutral - speculation about the translation of the original article, the numbers involved, the reliability of the sources, and so on. All of this itself is fine - news should be read with a critical mind.

No, what bothered me is that I felt that that this newfound objectivity was borne of some sort of fear or anxiety to appear not-racist or pro-immigrant or just plain progressive - not like those Daily Mail readers. And yet, it is this desire, expressed as I have described, that feels like a betrayal of progressive values.

I am not pro-immigration, or pro-refugees, or whatever because I believe that each immigrant is a good human being who will do no wrong in their new country; I am pro these things because I believe they are human rights. And in my system of values, some things are better than others - that is what values means. It is better to have respect for women as fellow human beings than to see us as pieces of meat. It is better to recognize the right of fellow humans to escape the horrors of war, than to believe that others must simply bear their lot.

Are these values irreconcilable? No. Will adapting them to the current refugee crisis be tricky, and vexing, and not always successful? Probably. Will we feel uncomfortable? Almost certainly. But we should try and that means, as goodnight to the rock n roll era said, sitting with the discomfort, not downplaying it or dismissing it.
posted by Aubergine at 4:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [65 favorites]


I don't think it's just that people don't want to "appear" racist or anti-immigrant. I think many people are just conflicted, that we know that attention given to this will unquestionably stoke the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee forces even more. Which is not to say it should be ignored, but it makes it much more tricky. If everyone was "progressive", I think it would be so much easier to talk about this openly because you could focus on the actual issue, and not on the worry that irrational actors will use the discussion to their advantage.

Same situation with respect to the San Bernardino shootings. Many people I know can talk about the various issues involved without generalizing it to all Muslims (just like the racists are capable of when discussing a white shooter, but not when discussing black or Muslim shooters). But since I also know many people cannot make that distinction, it makes me hesitate.

I'm not saying "don't talk about it" is the right answer, and no excuse should be given for this kind of behavior based on culture. But I can't help but also think of how this will be used against the vast, vast majority of refugees who do not do this kind of thing.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


What's bothering me about this story is the emphasis on the attackers all "looking Arab and North African", for two reasons. First, because as already noted upthread, more information has come in showing their nationalities were more varied than that; I "look" vaguely Arabic or North African, I have been told, and am neither. Second, because it shifts the responsibility away from police failure to help ensure safety on one of the busiest, unruly nights of the year, as well as their failure to take sexual assaults reported to them seriously, and shifts it instead onto "asking tough questions" about men who look Arabic and North African. It moves us away from confronting local police to clean house and into making the leap that Looking Arabic/North African = Possibly A Rapist.

That's what bothers me about the Norwegian classes, for immigrant men exclusively, to not commit sexual assault. There's a dangerous presumption there when the classes are not manditory for all men in Norway; only those immigrating from select countries. Once again, the responsibility and education is pushed away from "our own" and onto select people based solely on their nationality. Ethnic Norwegian men are demonstrably capable of rape and sexual assault, but they don't get taken aside for these classes.

To me, it's not just that this approach strays dangerously into some racist assumptions about marginalized people; it allows authorities and local men to avoid their own complicity in rape culture. We know that sexual assault happens in every country in the world. What happened in Cologne is ugly and frightening. But I think the "tough questions" we need to ask ourselves is why we aren't doing more to prevent them, why the public concern for sexual assault survivors seems to only ramp up when foreigners are the accused perpetrators, and how we can most effectively educate all men on sexual assault.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:41 PM on January 8, 2016 [27 favorites]


The tweet about an Islamophobe calling her a kebab because he couldn't come up with an actual slur was hilarious though.
No, that's a thing.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:44 PM on January 8, 2016


Ethnic Norwegian men are demonstrably capable of rape and sexual assault, but they don't get taken aside for these classes.


Don't the schools there already teach this stuff?
posted by Drinky Die at 4:46 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Left just needs to get better at answering this shit. Instead of embarrassing ourselves with racist (uh, who said all the victims were white?) rape apologia like Ayesha Siddiqi has in front of all of Twitter in a desperate attempt to deflect, go on the offensive.

It was the same thing with all the police brutality cases over the past two years. The Left was twisting itself into knots to try to explain that so-and-so never had a criminal record, we can't prove they committed a crime, etc. Who cares? Stop letting the Right dictate the argument.

Since when did execution become the punishment for shoplifting? Why should it be possible for anyone to have access to guns and body armor like the San Berndino shooters without a lengthy background check for each item? And why aren't the people who buy the guns and supplies for them treated as co-conspirators? Why weren't the police and city able to control any crowd that got out of hand? It was New Year's Eve in a major city - they should have had plans for a fight turning into a riot, they should have had plans for a terrorist attack leading to a hysterical stampede, and they should have had plans for a mass sexual assault as it has happened before repeatedly at parades and concerts all over the world and perpetrated by men of every color under the sun. The police failed to prevent it, they failed to stop it, they failed to investigate it.

That's the argument.
posted by bgal81 at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2016 [45 favorites]


Why should it be possible for anyone to have access to guns and body armor like the San Berndino shooters without a lengthy background check for each item? And why aren't the people who buy the guns and supplies for them treated as co-conspirators?

There was a background check for the guns, they had their co-conspirator (who is in fact being charged for his role) buy them.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:53 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Don't the schools there already teach this stuff?

If they do, it's a fairly recent thing; there are adult Norwegian men who might have never taken them. But immigrant men of all ages are required to take them, because again, the presumption is they never learned such things back home, and because of their nationality are required to take them. Which again, feeds the narrative that rapists are the Other and local men again are less suspect, as per my larger point.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:56 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


a mass sexual assault as it has happened before repeatedly at parades and concerts all over the world

Could you provide some examples of similar incidents?

The police failed to prevent it, they failed to stop it, they failed to investigate it.

The police did fail massively here but let's not forget that some men (I think it's uncontroversial to say that all the perpetrators were men) did commit crimes and they are ones who are ultimately responsible for both what happened that night and how the fall out affects attitudes to other men who look like them.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


You need examples of mass sexual assaults at concerts? Are you being serious?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The one that comes to mind is 2000 NYC Puerto Rican parade where the cops ignored pleas for help. A lot of the assaults were captured on video.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Woodstock 99, pretty much any outdoor music festival up this way, I mean... it's not like there's a dearth of examples of Lots Of Men Sexually Assaulting In A Crowd.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:05 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


The police did fail massively here but let's not forget that some men (I think it's uncontroversial to say that all the perpetrators were men) did commit crimes and they are ones who are ultimately responsible for both what happened that night and how the fall out affects attitudes to other men who look like them.

Surely you can't be fucking serious.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:07 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


, the presumption is they never learned such things back home

There is that presumption because a lot of them didn't. There are real cultural differences. They come from societies that are more patriarchal and misogynistic than the countries they are moving to.

When he first arrived in Europe, Abdu Osman Kelifa, a Muslim asylum seeker from the Horn of Africa, was shocked to see women in skimpy clothes drinking alcohol and kissing in public. Back home, he said, only prostitutes do that, and in locally made movies couples “only hug but never kiss.”

But immigrant men of all ages are required to take them

No, the classes in Norway are voluntary.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:08 PM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


How about how the "fallout" affects men, period? Who benefits from making this less about taking women seriously and fighting rape culture baked into our society and more about race?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:10 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do find it annoying that a large scale sexual assault on women has turned into people tying themselves in knots to ensure no one thinks all men are like this. I am perfectly aware of our current immigration issues in Europe, that this isn't something limited to any ethnic group, that it's a more fraught situation and it can be very easily played by the anti-immigration brigade.

And yet even writing that I can see I'm falling into the trap that once again lots of women have been assaulted and the main narrative is ensuring another group of people aren't inconvenienced by it. It would have been nice if just for a day or two the focus was on how can we stop women being subjected to this before we progressed to the far more popular topic of how to make sure innocent men aren't tainted. And rereading that it sounds a bit bitter, but hell with it, right now I am.
posted by SometimeNextMonth at 5:11 PM on January 8, 2016 [45 favorites]


I have read that the Netherlands has the gold standard wrt sex education in schools. Is it made clear in their classes that women aren't objects?
posted by brujita at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2016


What's bothering me about this story is the emphasis on the attackers all "looking Arab and North African", for two reasons. First, because as already noted upthread, more information has come in showing their nationalities were more varied than that; I "look" vaguely Arabic or North African, I have been told, and am neither. Second, because it shifts the responsibility away from police failure to help ensure safety on one of the busiest, unruly nights of the year, as well as their failure to take sexual assaults reported to them seriously, and shifts it instead onto "asking tough questions" about men who look Arabic and North African. It moves us away from confronting local police to clean house and into making the leap that Looking Arabic/North African = Possibly A Rapist.

I don't think it's just a matter of just looking like, almost all the men so far identified have been North African or Middle Eastern. As much as it feels like a right wing fever dream....
posted by Greener Backyards at 5:15 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is similar to what happened to Lara Logan when she was covering the protests in Egypt, isn't it? At least it sounds pretty similar.
posted by Justinian at 5:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


Stop letting the Right dictate the argument.

For years the BNP were giving talks in pubs and halls around northern England, ranting on about how men of Pakistani descent were grooming and raping children, such child sex being part of their culture and that mistreatment of non-Muslims was religiously condoned. Years, and nobody else spoke about it publicly, despite both social services and the police being in full knowledge of what was going on. The field was left wide, wide open for the BNP to define this in exactly the way they wanted. Today, there is no received opinion on the issue which is not, more or less, as the BNP had it. Other narratives are simply not found outside the pages of the Guardian and the New Statesman. The BNP won because they talked.
posted by Emma May Smith at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


You need examples of mass sexual assaults at concerts? Are you being serious?

Yes, it's a genuine question. I'm curious to know more about previous incidents and how they were dealt with. I quite honestly haven't heard of mass sexual assaults at concerts before. Since the examples provided were in the US perhaps it's because it's not as common a phenomena in Europe but I'm willing to be corrected.

Surely you can't be fucking serious.

Well yes actually I am. If the assaults and robberies hadn't happened this conversation wouldn't be happening. That's what I mean when I say they are ultimately responsible. Others, including the police, politicians and the media are still responsible for their own responses but there would be nothing to respond to without the initial actions.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:22 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sounds like Lara Logan, and also reminds me of what happened long ago at Tailhook. Does anyone else remember that?
posted by jfwlucy at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Could you provide some examples of similar incidents?

There are way to many to list. I was reminded of the 2001 Seattle Mardi Gras assaults, along with the more recent ones in the protests in Egypt. It's a common phenomenon and one that the police should have at least been aware of and capable of responding to in a responsible manner.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:26 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


police failure to help ensure safety on one of the busiest, unruly nights of the year

I'm not usually in the business of defending the police, but this was a long way from the usual new year's drunkenness and random scuffles.

Germany is a pretty safe and orderly country (and likes to think of itself as such - I'm half-German so permit me the slight national stereotype!) and events like this are really unprecedented. An organised thousand-plus group conducting coordinated sexual assaults, shooting fireworks into the crowds and at the police, setting fires and intimidating witnesses? If you read the police reports they were just overwhelmed by the scale of the thing.
posted by sobarel at 5:27 PM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


Another thing to bear in mind is it's not like there aren't German-born men of Arab and North African origin, nor can we presume all the survivors were white. The race thing is just muddying the waters and requires a lot of leaps and assumptions to be taken that do not actually protect women.

Where the classes in Norway are concerned, voluntary or mandatory (and I've heard conflicting accounts), if we're serious about preventing sexual assault and rape, education needs to be less about "what country is he from" and more about "does he have a penis", as having one is pretty much the common factor in practically all men who sexually assault.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:28 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought the issue of sexual assaults at concerts and festivals was widely known, it has been talked about for decades in my group of friends. Just from the UK:

Five women fighting against it

Latitude

SlaneGirl

Vice
posted by saucysault at 5:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


That some people will use this is an opportunity to renew calls for banning asylum seekers doesn't, I think, imply that talking about the ethnicity of the attackers is muddying the waters. An event like this can be complex and have multiple factors at play.
posted by Justinian at 5:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


I spent my college years in India. I don't think we need to beat around the politically correct bush to state very clearly exactly what the safety situation for Indian women on the streets is like, much less on New Year's Eve (there are always new horror stories each year, particulary from Delhi).

Let's not ignore the cultural factors here. I was very glad to hear in Finland that men were getting these classes. Young girls of 14/15 had been sexually assualted by equally young newcomer males. Cross cultural communication and expectations sent a lot of mixed signals that neither side would be aware of. In India, we learnt early that to even smile or accidently catch the eye of a male was considered a come hither signal. Rail at this as much as you will, but your railing will not change the ground reality that women have to deal with every day.

That aside, this snippet concerns me deeply:

From the Guardian: "Of the 31 people identified, nine were Algerian, eight Moroccan, five Iranian, four Syrian and two German, plus an Iraqi, a Serb and a US citizen."

When I connect that dot to this dot, I can't help but wonder what hidden manner of dirtiness is going on here.

Bastards.
posted by infini at 5:42 PM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


Thanks saucysault. I was aware of issues around sexual assault at concerts but I've never heard of them taking place in a mass organised fashion similar to the Cologne assaults. The examples you provided don't really fit that paradigm either but some of the examples from the US provided earlier do so I have been answered.

[As a small aside Slane isn't in the UK. It's in Ireland.]
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:55 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you read the police reports they were just overwhelmed by the scale of the thing.

"At 8:57 a.m. on the morning of January 1, the Cologne police department's press department released a statement under the heading: 'Festive Atmosphere -- Celebrations Largely Peaceful.'"

Der Spiegel

posted by IndigoJones at 6:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


if we're serious about preventing sexual assault and rape, education needs to be less about "what country is he from" and more about "does he have a penis", as having one is pretty much the common factor in practically all men who sexually assault.

I would think classes about sexual assault would be useful to both genders, not just men. Woman may be coming from a country where it is unheard of to report rape, where sexual assault isn't taken seriously by authorities, etc. This includes understanding that they don't have to put up with any sort of abuse by men that they know/are married to.
posted by el io at 6:19 PM on January 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


I am so frustrated that women's safety is considered a lower priority than the possible perceptions of men. Yes, different cultures have different ideas of sex crimes. That's why the Julian Assange thing blew up so hard - because Scandinavia is the gold standard for respecting women and having generously protective law. So yes, that info is useful for all migrants, not just North African, but fucking have it.
posted by corb at 6:32 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ethnic Norwegian men are demonstrably capable of rape and sexual assault, but they don't get taken aside for these classes.

Comments like this (there are a couple, above, complaining that migrants should not be required to take classes that natives aren't required to take) strike me as deeply disingenuous, or profoundly ignorant.

If you have spent any time in some of the countries from which the accused hail, then you will know that the gendered dimensions of public life in these countries is profoundly different than that of Norway, or Germany, or almost anywhere in Europe. You will have noticed that public sociality in the countries from which the accused hail are largely same-sex forms of sociality (barring, you know, Beirut, and also upper class, privatized "public" spaces like malls). You will have noticed that women adhere to markedly different bodily dispositions in public than women do in Germany or Norway; that there are different operative paradigms of female bodily modesty and covering.

If you believe in the very concept of culture, then you must acknowledge that migrants come from different cultures than that in which Norwegian men are raised. You must, further, admit that Norwegian men are far less likely than migrants to need classes in understanding how to behave in a way that accords with the sensibilities and norms of their own culture.

Yes, some ethnic Norwegians, and/or some men born and raised in Norway, commit rape. No, ethnic Norwegian men, and/or men born and raised in Norway, are not in need of the same kind of cultural training about how to appropriately interpret the significance of a woman wearing a short skirt, or smiling at you while walking alone after dark.

Seriously, this kind of disingenuous argument to which I am responding feels so amateurish, so adolescent, so willingly blind, and it is so ubiquitous right now among the people whose political opinions normally align with mine, that I am feeling downright alienated from my own people.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 6:41 PM on January 8, 2016 [163 favorites]


The tweet about an Islamophobe calling her a kebab because he couldn't come up with an actual slur was hilarious though.

Well, it's horrible but it still made me laugh imagining if everyone was called by food. A car driving by and some redneck yelling out "broccoli beef!" and "naan!" at people.

Which would still suck, because it's the intent and vitriol that makes it offensive, not the word itself.
posted by ctmf at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of ugly food-related slurs already. To pick relatively toothless examples from Europe, rosbif and frog.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 7:02 PM on January 8, 2016


If you believe in the very concept of culture, then you must acknowledge that migrants come from different cultures than that in which Norwegian men are raised. You must, further, admit that Norwegian men are far less likely than migrants to need classes in understanding how to behave in a way that accords with the sensibilities and norms of their own culture.

If you decontextualize this and look only at the abstract principle of the thing, as you are doing, it's easy to miss that in this context you are arguing in favor of the notion that the difference between Norwegian culture and non-Norwegian culture is that non-Norwegian culture is okay with rape and that people from it need to be taught that rape isn't okay.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:15 PM on January 8, 2016


You know what? Some regional culture is in fact more okay with rape than others, and I'm fucking sick of tap dancing around that. When you have people and courts ordering gang rape as a punishment, I don't know how the fuck you can claim with a straight face that all cultures oppose rape equally. It's not racist to point out that super patriarchal cultures that devalue women and impose modesty law on them may in fact not react well to women walking the streets as equals.
posted by corb at 8:22 PM on January 8, 2016 [102 favorites]


Plus, the social norms around nudity are very different. Finnish men will NOT glance at your breasts EXCEPT when sending a clear message. This is related to their sauna culture. The last thing women in Finland would want to happen is to suddenly feel insecure due to more than the random infrequent man who looks you up and down. I've seen this change in Singapore after tens of thousands of migrant labour were encouraged to come from lower income segments of less developed neighbouring countries. I now feel insecure where I didn't before.
posted by infini at 8:24 PM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


I've had a few awkward encounters with things I put in "omg I cultural relativity I don't know how to deal" file. One of the early ones for wee mandyman's life dates back to the 90's when her beloved high school French teacher visiting from Senegal explained to the class that of course the mosque is segregated by gender, otherwise the men would rape the women. We were a class full of sensitive teenaged liberals who did not know how to process the information.

How to talk about these things in a way that doesn't dehumanize?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:26 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


non-Norwegian culture is okay with rape and that people from it need to be taught that rape isn't okay.

I don't think that's what mylittlepoppet was saying at all. It's saying that different cultures have different standards for what types of behavior and dress mean in public settings, and that it is more likely (note: more likely is the critical part here) that people from more conservative religious cultures (I shall freely call them regressive) need to understand that a woman in a mini skirt, or a regular skirt, or simply showing her face in public is not an invitation of sexual behavior.
posted by chimaera at 8:27 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Plus, lets not dance around the attitudes that South Asian men have regarding the "more liberal, sexually permissive" foreigner vs their own secluded women.
posted by infini at 8:29 PM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


To frame it in a different way:

The double standards and the gender stereotypes that y'all have worked so long and hard to erase still exist, in all their glory, in parts of Asia and the African continent.
posted by infini at 8:33 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


If you decontextualize this and look only at the abstract principle of the thing, as you are doing, it's easy to miss that in this context you are arguing in favor of the notion that the difference between Norwegian culture and non-Norwegian culture is that non-Norwegian culture is okay with rape and that people from it need to be taught that rape isn't okay.

That is actually not at all what I was saying. I was discussing culturally specific gender norms, and how people born and/or raised within a particular place are -- yes, I'll say inarguably -- more familiar with (and, by and large, unreflexively accepting of) those norms than people raised elsewhere, especially in places where gendered public practice is radically different.

In this particular context, that truth has real-time implications that are deeply political, which appears to be profoundly uncomfortable and disconcerting for those who prefer to cling to scripted narratives about what it means to be a "good ally."
posted by mylittlepoppet at 8:38 PM on January 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


One of the early ones for wee mandyman's life dates back to the 90's when her beloved high school French teacher visiting from Senegal explained to the class that of course the mosque is segregated by gender, otherwise the men would rape the women. We were a class full of sensitive teenaged liberals who did not know how to process the information.

That is, to my sensitive liberal ears, super fucked up! Did you ever figure out how to process that information, if you don't mind me asking? I'm at a loss over here.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 8:40 PM on January 8, 2016


it's easy to miss that in this context you are arguing in favor of the notion that the difference between Norwegian culture and non-Norwegian culture is that non-Norwegian culture is okay with rape and that people from it need to be taught that rape isn't okay.

Two posts away, there's a detailed discussion about how many individuals in the US still don't define sex with someone who is incredibly intoxicated as rape and how we need to educate people to make sure that they do.

Based on that, I think it's safe to conclude that, yes, there are cultural variations in terms of how people define rape and that those variations mean that some places are safer for women than others.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:45 PM on January 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


knuckle tattoos: minor protests and the subject was dropped as far as I remember. This guy was liked. And not weird to his lady students at all. He said it so matter of factly, like the reason was obvious. I don't think it would have occurred to anyone to report it because a. we liked the guy, b. we understood there was a cultural difference.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:48 PM on January 8, 2016


I'll explain one part of this dissonance, from my own lessons after having been dropped into such a culture after high school i.e. adult enough to recognize that cultural shift in context was taking place.

In a society where women are accompanied by male members of the family or household, a woman seen after dark, alone, was indubitably a fallen woman/professional/fair game.

I was 36 when I first came home after dark, alone, in a cab. It was in Chicago. I knew I was breaking through barriers, and my "spidey sense" was confused and couldn't be relied upon. Similarly, in Helsinki (Finland) which is exponentially safer than Chicago, I've walked back alone, tipsy, from a party, at 2am with little thought or concern in downtown. I wouldn't want this to change, but it might be already. And now, my spidey sense is degraded and I couldn't do this anywhere else in the world.

In Finland, at least, women wouldn't have this same spidey sense, and I believe the exact same thing happened there and in Norway, as did in Cologne. They were unfair, vulnerable, declawed game. At least in India, I'd be prepared for "the enemy".
posted by infini at 9:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [21 favorites]



Three Iraqi asylum seekers have been arrested for committing sexual assaults during the celebrations in the city’s Senate Square, where some 20,000 had gathered.

Security personnel reported “widespead sexual harrassment” during the celebrations, police added, with women complaining that asylum seekers had groped their breasts and kissed them without permission.

“This phenomenon is new in Finnish sexual crime history,” Ilkka Koskimaki, the deputy chief of police in Helsinki, told the Telegraph. ”We have never before had this kind of sexual harrassment happening at New Year’s Eve.”

He said that the police had received tip-offs from staff at the asylum reception centres.

“Our information from these reception centres were that disturbances or other crimes would happen in the city centre. We were prepared for fights and sexual harrassment and thefts.”

He said that police had established a “very massive presence” to control the estimated 1,000 Iraqi asylum seekers who had gathered in the tunnels surrounding the central railway station by 11pm, many of whom appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

source

posted by infini at 9:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]




Mod note: Couple comments removed; sarcastic framing isn't going to really improve the thread, and keeping it toned down a little in general is a good goal all around.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:52 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


This multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and live happily with each other has failed. Utterly failed.
- Angela Merkel, 2010
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 9:58 PM on January 8, 2016


>“A friend was grabbed by one of the men and put into a headlock. Her face was in his jacket. He cuddled her and licked her face.

That's a super weird thing to do, for a random assault.

Coordinated debasement and humiliation... if that's what it was, it'll be a firecracker, all right.

When I connect that dot to this dot,

I don't want to connect those dots. That's all we need, isn't it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:04 PM on January 8, 2016


As with Rochdale the idea that the police are afraid of being seen as racist by blaming immigrants is laughable. As with Rochdale the police are afraid of being seen as what they are; utterly incompetent and indifferent to the female victims of sexual crime.

The problem isn't immigrant men, or swarthy men or young men or non-Norwegian men or Pakistani men.

The problem is men.
posted by fullerine at 10:12 PM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


Finnish police have revealed an unusually high level of sexual harassment in Helsinki on New Year’s Eve and said they had been tipped off about plans by groups of asylum seekers to sexually harass women.

infini, just so that i understand which dots you're connecting, the suggestion is that this was designed to set off an anti-immigrant backlash & kick some horrible shit off, correct?
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:18 PM on January 8, 2016


I'm just seeing lots of dots, cotton dress sock, I don't have the context or the experience to connect them with any particular angle or ideology.
posted by infini at 10:30 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Whoever coordinated this shit was sending a message; if it turns out to be that "we're going to use violence to make sure you know we think women are trash garbage objects" or "we're going to use violence to make you think the people we don't like think women are trash garbage objects" I won't be surprised either way.
posted by bleep at 10:35 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah, me neither, ok. Because that would be awful, if it were the case. It'll be awful anyway, probably.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:35 PM on January 8, 2016


Two things are for sure, there is some organized group out there who wants to hurt women and WILL hurt women to send a message and we don't know who it is cause it could be anyone.
posted by bleep at 10:43 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


It could be anyone? Really? Does it not seem to you to be highly unlikely to be a native-born Finn? Would you not judge it to be exceedingly likely to be someone from one of the cultures that destroys women?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


It was awful, sorry, it was horrible. But it could get worse.

It could be anyone.

Yeah, it could be. I'm going to stop pretending to be Thelma from Scooby Do and go to bed and wait for Frowner or someone to come explain it tomorrow.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:53 PM on January 8, 2016


I've seen suggestions that it was "coordinated" in some way, but haven't been able to find any details on that.

Its coordinated in the same way that fraternity after fraternity at State and Private college are pretty much doing the same thing every thurs, fri, sat night...
posted by hal_c_on at 11:09 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Scandinavia is the gold standard for respecting women

You what? As someone from Scandinavia, let me tell you that my experience is that, amongst young people at least, thoughts on what constitutes sexual harassment and assault are way backwards in Denmark and Norway at least compared to the English speaking world. While the idea that sex with someone intoxicated being rape isn't universal in the English speaking world, it is certainly more common than where I come from (Denmark) for example. And precisely because of the generally more progressive attitudes to gender in general, the attitudes towards sexuality and sexual relations between the genders is not - you would never see a.TV show airing on the BBC.which consisted entirely of a couple of (fully clothed) men sitting in a room, discussing a naked woman parading silently around in front of them like she was up for auction, with all kinds of objectifying judgements that extend to women and female bodies in general. That exact programme aired on DR2, one of the Danish national broadcaster's channels, just a few years ago. The way women's bodies and women generally are talked about in mainstream discourse in Scandinavia would often be completely beyond the pale for similar contexts in the UK because of how horribly objectifying and judgey it is. Sweden may be better in some ways, but I can assure you that the reason we have strong legislation on this stuff in Scandinavia is because we need it, because cultural attitudes to women's sexuality and bodies specifically is so often so very very toxic.
posted by Dysk at 11:11 PM on January 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


um, velma. fff, cultural differences exist and and many of them are profound (if not unchangeable) but all this seems very unlikely.

@hal_c_on, fraternities wreak their awfulness according to scripts and traditions; there were no scripts or traditions here, because this was a very weird and fraught situation already; there were tipoffs to the police.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:11 PM on January 8, 2016


"...this was a very weird and fraught situation already;..."

What was weird, traditional News Years Eve, The violence, or the tip off about unscripted assaults.
posted by clavdivs at 11:23 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


What was weird, traditional News Years Eve, The violence, or the tip off about unscripted assaults.

Uneasiness about managing the crisis to begin with, given an increasingly energized racist right (across Europe), is the fraught situation I was thinking of. Yeah, advance tipoffs about planned violence at very public New Year's Eve celebrations is also weird to me.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:41 PM on January 8, 2016


I have read that the Netherlands has the gold standard wrt sex education in schools. Is it made clear in their classes that women aren't objects?

I don't know. When I (an American) was on vacation there I went to a science museum which was generally aimed at children which had an exhibit showing all (well, all I can imagine) the possible positions a man and woman could assume when they were having sex. It's a much different experience than my science-oriented ass encountered when he grew up.
posted by Quonab at 11:42 PM on January 8, 2016


Oh I see. By "script" I meant cultural scripts. Yeah, time for bed.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:43 PM on January 8, 2016


This is tough and I am glad I found a decent feminist article at Der Spiegel (in German). Amongst other things it points out that even if every single immigrant was kicked out of Germany tomorrow then the day after there'd still be sexual violence. Like, plenty of it.
posted by yoHighness at 12:07 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Yeah, advance tipoffs about planned violence at very public New Year's Eve celebrations is also weird to me."

I see, well some may call it vigilance or vigilantism. But when has managing a crisis been easy, maybe this one, the boss lost his job.

Merkel should and will be next to loss a job.
posted by clavdivs at 12:09 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a bit of a derail, but I am not sure this is entirely accurate. The BNP say a lot of things, that they (possibly accidentally) got near the truth one time may been luck. I doubt it was because they are better at listening to women.
For years the BNP were giving talks in pubs and halls around northern England, ranting on about how men of Pakistani descent were grooming and raping children, such child sex being part of their culture and that mistreatment of non-Muslims was religiously condoned. Years, and nobody else spoke about it publicly, despite both social services and the police being in full knowledge of what was going on.

Social Services were aware, as they are of lots of terrible things that slip under the radar of mainstream society. I think that the police were untrustworthy and willfully negligent at best. There are lots of reasons* why a marginalised, under employed, desperate and entitled group of men would prey on vulnerable girls without culture or religion coming into it. Post hoc justification using religion is also a common thing, cf. most religious strife.

* Not good reasons.

OT - I have been hearing that it took days for the victims to report to the police, so the scale of the Koln situation wasn't clear on the night. If they weren't treating women's reports of assault seriously on the night that speaks more to local attitudes than imported ones.
I imagine that it wouldn't be difficult for an organised gang to take advantage of young, itinerant men from places where kissing in public is forbidden, and turn them into a gang of thieves using sexual molestation as a cover. All kinds of terrible attitudes towards entitlement, boundaries and sexual violence, coupled with mob mentality. Somebody had to fence all of that stolen gear.
Even if it wasn't organised, they were getting their ideas about what happens on NYE from somewhere. Somewhere that is very wrong.
This kind of appalling behaviour is common whenever there are groups of men returning from a military tour, back in port from the Navy, on holiday in Tijuana, etc etc
posted by asok at 12:17 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


A bit of background:
Germany had a total of 1.1 million refugees coming into the country last year.
The country was (and still is) torn about how to deal with this. On the one hand, there are those who say that Germany needs to accept any and all refugees that are fleeing war or are persecuted for political, racial, religious etc. reasons (but not economic, so just being poor will not get you asylum in Germany). It's in the constitution. And the main reason it's there and so widely accepted is the feeling that Germany screwed up so badly during WWII that it now has to make up for it. That's why Angela Merkel's "There is no upper limit to asylum" was/is so widely supported.

On the other hand, there are those who think that there should be an upper limit. So far, this has been voiced only very timidly, because arguing for an upper limit somehow placed you in the same camp as neo-Nazi right wingers. That is how far the Overton window has shifted over the past year: Arguing for an upper limit in immigration would have instantly marked you as a right-wing nut and potential Nazi and in any case directly responsible for any arson attacks on refugee homes, and many politicians shied away, because it would have caused an outcry among more liberal politicians. This may also have been at play when the police initially hesitated to give out information about the ethnicity of the Cologne atttackers (actually, the police person in charge is on the record as having withheld this information because he/she thought it is "politically sensitive").

So the "official" sentiment in Germany up to the attacks (i.e. what you hear in the news) was very much pro-refugee. It felt like the right thing to do. And news about the Czechs and Poles not wanting to take in any Muslim immigrants were met with incredulity - those racist bastards, we're better than that!
At the same time, a large part of the population felt (or still feels) like they are not given the entire picture, that there might be some voluntary self-censure going on (like that police spokesperson who withheld the ethnicity of the Cologne attackers, etc.). And also that common sense is thrown out of the window. Yes, there are in fact classes for immigrants, where refugees are taught not only German but also social aspects like how women are treated in Germany. But the problem is that there were 1.1 million coming to the country last year and finding teachers and organizing these classes for that many people is pretty difficult, although Germany is trying really hard. Which is in fact one of the arguments of those wanting to limit immigration: That the logistics of all (not to forget the price tag) is increasingly impossible.

So that is the fault line: On the one hand people arguing for limitless acceptance of refugees (such as Angela Merkel) and those who want to limit it to, say, 200.000 per year (the number that has been bandied about by a politician that is largely regarded as right-wing).
Until the end of last year, the latter position was widely regarded as unacceptable, but the fallout of Cologne may be that it pushes the Overton window back to where it is regarded as a reasonable proposition.

It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out, because the common interpretation of the constitution is that there is, in fact, no limit to asylum, so Germany HAS to accept anyone who makes it into the country and mutters "asylum" to a border guard.
Also, there is a Supreme Court decision that states that noone can be sent back to a country where there is a high possibility that death awaits them (because they may be executed or because it's a war zone). I think this means that if any of the Cologne attackers are e.g. from Syria, they cannot be sent back and Germany is stuck with them.
posted by sour cream at 12:33 AM on January 9, 2016 [20 favorites]


Asok, from the police reports linked above and some of the eyewitness testimony it seems as though the police were getting plenty of reports on the night and in fact were somewhat overwhelmed by them.

For whatever reason a decision was made to downplay the events in the initial reports of the night and it wasn't until women started to tell their story on social media and some outrage built up that the story got picked up by the media. This probably encouraged more people to come forward but the police certainly knew it was happening on the night.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:36 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


For anyone unclear about the cultural attitudes to rape in regions from which many of the European migrants originate (as per this article) I would reccomend the wikipedia article on rape statistics. Her are some exerts:

Syria: The Syrian Civil War has been associated with a high incidence of war rape, which has led to the stigmatization of victims by their relatives and communities, and in turn to honor killings, forced marriages, and child marriages

Afghanistan: Rape in Afghanistan is a crime which can be legally prosecuted, but in practice it is very rarely reported, because of the immense risks that women face if they report it. Rape victims in the country face a double risk of being subjected to violence: on one hand they can become victims of honor killings perpetrated by their families, and on the other hand they can be victimized by the laws of the country: they can be charged with adultery, a crime that can be punishable by death [...] it is generally not acceptable for a woman and a man to be alone together (unless married or related)

Pakistan: Rape in Pakistan has been notable, and continues to be a tool for suppressing women in the country [...] Most of the cases in Pakistan results as marriage between the culprit and the victim to keep the honor of victim's family or as suicide of the culprit

I think that the majority of people coming from a country where the standard response to a rape victim is to force them to marry their attacker, or kill them for "honor", is going to have a markedly different view of women and their rights in society to that shared by the majority of people in Germay
posted by DrRotcod at 1:34 AM on January 9, 2016 [22 favorites]


I think that the majority of people coming from a country where the standard response to a rape victim is to force them to marry their attacker, or kill them for "honor", is going to have a markedly different view of women and their rights in society to that shared by the majority of people in Germay

That is true, and yet it is considered very un-PC to poin that out in many countries, including Germany. The common response (also given above in this thread) is that there are also many rapists in non-Muslim societies, so it is a matter of degree rather than culture.

I think it's interesting to see what price a society is willing to pay for certain freedoms or luxuries (for lack of a better word). For example, the lack of a speed limit on German highways can be directly linked to a an increased number (several dozen? hundreds?) of annual traffic deaths. But that's a price that German society is willing to pay for the freedom of speeding all they want. Similarly, US society is accepting the death of 30.000 kids every year for the freedom of playing around with guns.

So far, Germany, as a whole, was willing to accept the burden of taking in a million refugees per year in exchange for the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing a good thing and finally standing on the right side on a moral question. And so far this was mostly perceived to be a financial and organisational burden. But the (perceived) burden of an increased number of rapes and sexual harrassment cases might be a burden that appears to be too much for too many people. So this might be a tipping point. But as I noted above, the question is not whether Germany will stop taking in any refugees, the two extremes on the table right now are no limits at all and taking in 200.000 per year. So a compromise might work out to e.g. 500.000 per year.
posted by sour cream at 2:28 AM on January 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


There are lots of reasons* why a marginalised, under employed, desperate and entitled group of men would prey on vulnerable girls without culture or religion coming into it.

A few are suggested in the Der Spiegel piece:

Ercan Yasaroglu, a social worker from Berlin, was appalled when he heard about the attacks in Cologne. He was furious and dismayed, but he wasn't surprised. "What happened in Cologne has been happening here in Berlin for a year, but on a smaller scale," he says.

Yasaroglu works in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. In recent months, he has seen how, time and again, women are verbally harassed, then groped, then robbed. "This is not some sudden loss of inhibition, but calculated action by criminals." Thieves intentionally distract women with sexual assaults, he says, and many of those responsible are from countries in North Africa. Some of them have had their applications for asylum rejected, leaving them with a "tolerated" immigration status and a miserable life.

Violence researcher Wilhelm Heitmeyer (same article) thinks the unusual "constellation and magnitude" was a result of opportunistic coordination via phones and social networks, with advantage taken of the corners and crowds; asks people to focus more on the cultural and less on the sexual nature of the assaults:

"That trivializes the phenomenon," he says. "It's about violence. And violence is a demonstration of power -- in this instance, women's right to self-determination, in order to express their inequality."

The National Post picked up details from the police report omitted in the DS article (but widely quoted in right wing papers):

The report obtained by Der Spiegel seemed to corroborate the sense that the attackers, repeatedly described as groups of male migrants, felt that they had the run of areas in front of and inside the train station...

The author of the report noted a level of disrespect for police “like I have never experienced in my 29 years of public service" ....

According to the report, at least one officer quoted a man as saying: “I’m a Syrian! You have to treat me kindly! Mrs. Merkel invited me.”


A hastily organized, misogynist crime spree with no end beyond a short-term show of resentment and power, and what thrills and gains they took in the moment?
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:32 AM on January 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think it's wrong to assume that people from certain cultures have a more lenient concept of rape or sexual assault. It's just that they might have a better chance to get away with it. After all, in Western countries a women has an at least 50% chance of being sexually assaulted in her lifetime, too.

The majority of the attackers in Cologne, who are known as "Antänzer" (groping or tackling somebody in a group to pick their pockets), targeted women because they knew perfectly well the severity of the attack and the impact it has, making it easier to steal their smartphones and purses. This is not a cultural thing, this is men sexually attacking women to intimidate and victimize them and gain from it. Just like any other rape/sexual assault too.

Although maybe the police could profit from courses regarding sexual violence, as they obviously didn't take the situation (and the women reporting attacks) seriously enough and utterly failed to act appropriately. They should have, for example, provided a secure corridor into the train station.

Let's just hope they are able to learn from that debacle, as next month is Carnaval, which is 5 days of rather wild partying in Cologne.
posted by ojemine at 2:47 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


I have read that the Netherlands has the gold standard wrt sex education in schools. Is it made clear in their classes that women aren't objects?
I'm in the Netherlands. My child did not have any sex education in primary school, which I thought was a real missed chance. Sex ed in her secondary school was okay. I liked that they used the right names for all the relevant body parts, that they learned about birth control, that homosexuality was included, etc. But the textbook that my child's school used didn't mention consent at all. I just asked her if this was included in the lessons, if the teacher had discussed it, and she said that it wasn't really discussed. It was part of a biology class and focused on the biology side of things.
posted by blub at 3:10 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks for posting. I've been looking forward to getting mefites' (esp Frowner's!) views on this.

A personal note - it has never occurred to me to report being 'groped' to anyone official, because it happens all the time - I would estimate I've been 'groped'* between 50-100 times in my life by men of all races and ethnicities.

It feels like I'm living in a different world from people in this thread who suggested women didn't report being assaulted because of liberal bias.

*I may be wrong in my thinking though - I'm just starting to reframe groping as sexual assault. So respect to those people who are working to make a difference, like Girls Against - very inspiring.
posted by mgrrl at 3:22 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think it's wrong to assume that people from certain cultures have a more lenient concept of rape or sexual assault. It's just that they might have a better chance to get away with it.

I think it's exactly right to assume that.
In case you missed corb's link, here it is again: Indian Village Orders Gang-Rape Of 2 Sisters

I'm sure that in most parts of India, rape is universally viewed as a crime no matter what the circumstances, but at least in that particular part of India, rape is apparently considered an appropriate form of punishment (for a crime they didn't even commit themselves). If that's not a cultural difference, then I don't know what is.

After all, in Western countries a women has an at least 50% chance of being sexually assaulted in her lifetime, too.

Right, the old, "it's not cultural, they do it in the West, too" argument. I believe the figure for Egypt, for example, is close to 99%.

I've never quite understood this argument, though. There are rapists in all cultures, therefore we shouldn't single out and point fingers at certain cultural groups, is that it?

If that is the argument, then why not go all the way: There have been cases in which women have been found guilty of statutory rape. Therefore, women are rapists too. Why single out the men? Women do it too!
Pretty absurd argument, if you ask me....
posted by sour cream at 3:32 AM on January 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


Comments like this (there are a couple, above, complaining that migrants should not be required to take classes that natives aren't required to take) strike me as deeply disingenuous, or profoundly ignorant.
It is very similar to the response by a professor of integration and migration studies in a Dutch newspaper article about this topic. This is a topic that reasonable people can apparently disagree about.
The article mentions that many refugees are specifically fleeing from those countries that have awful women's rights. The experts that are cited do say that it's really important that refugees learn about women's rights (and that that already happens in refugee centers), but that that a specific course is not the way to do that (do we also need a specific course for gay rights, is one of the questions asked). It can be stigmatising, reinforces the idea that refugees are all anti-women, which increases fear for refugees, which hurts their integration in our society. And being a full member of society helps way more than a course, according to a big refugee charity that's cited in the article. And the professor says that a course for refugees ignores the fact that sexual violence by white men is a very big problem too and that men who were born here could sometimes use a refresher course too.
posted by blub at 3:35 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is not super relevant to the thread as a whole, but I thought I'd correct something about infini's earlier comment as it may provide some context for Finland now that we're involved as well (and Finland is often portrayed in an overly flattering manner):

Plus, the social norms around nudity are very different. Finnish men will NOT glance at your breasts EXCEPT when sending a clear message. This is related to their sauna culture.

As a Finnish man, I'm embarrassed to have to speak for the lot of us to state that in fact we will, though out of some modicum of respect we try to be careful to only do so quickly and when the woman is clearly looking away to not embarrass her or ourselves.

Our sauna culture certainly has an effect on our views toward nudity, but practically all public Finnish saunas are still gender-segregated. Families generally bathe together; groups of friends can go either way according to the bathers' personal preferences, and workplace sauna evenings tend to only be mixed if everyone involved is explicitly okay with it. But it must be said that our sauna culture certainly hasn't decreased Finnish men's interest in boobs.

The last thing women in Finland would want to happen is to suddenly feel insecure due to more than the random infrequent man who looks you up and down. I've seen this change in Singapore after tens of thousands of migrant labour were encouraged to come from lower income segments of less developed neighbouring countries. I now feel insecure where I didn't before.

This is a growing concern, and it is specifically related to the influx of immigrants from macho cultures. My wife has recently started hearing her coworkers talk about getting those 130dB personal alarm devices for their teenage daughters, since they now fear for their safety in public places in a way thay they didn't before.

Based on conversations with Finnish women, I've come to believe that compared to women in most other countries, they have been able to live relatively harassment-free. This is not to say it never happens, but incidents are (perhaps significantly) fewer and further between than, say, in the US. For example, catcalling isn't really a thing Finnish women have to endure, if their answers to my questions about it are to be believed.

For example, my 30+ year-old wife says that she's been whistled at once in her life, by a native-born Finnish man in broad daylight, while she was walking in town in a tanktop without a bra (she doesn't think it was "her fault" for dressing this way, but she seems certain that her clothes were nonetheless the catalyst that motivated the asshole in question, given the lack of similar experiences otherwise). Other anecdata I've heard indicate that street harassment in any form is overwhelmingly the domain of immigrant men who look like they've arrived from cultures where men treat women worse than Finnish men do, and it sounds like incidents are on the rise.
posted by jklaiho at 3:56 AM on January 9, 2016 [20 favorites]


I believe the figure for Egypt, for example, is close to 99%.

Source: The Moral Epidemic of Egypt: 99% of Women Are Sexually Harassed

At what point does it become OK to speak of a misogynistic culture? Only when sexual harrassment has been eradicated in all other parts of the earth?

Of course, that fact that the places where many of the refugees come from are oppressive hellholes is the main reason they come to Europe in the first place. But one has to wonder whether some of those who take that hell with them shouldn't be sent back.
posted by sour cream at 4:34 AM on January 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


In case you missed corb's link, here it is again: Indian Village Orders Gang-Rape Of 2 Sisters
No, I didn't (and I was actually aware of that case), and I don't believe it is contrary to what I said, as the people (actually: men) in that village were, I believe, very aware of that being the most horrible act they could do to these women short of killing them.

Right, the old, "it's not cultural, they do it in the West, too" argument. I believe the figure for Egypt, for example, is close to 99%.
I should have elaborated better: Contributers in this thread have linked to reports of sexual assault at concerts and other assemblies of people. There has even been talk of Gold Standards for women's rights in European countries. Still, the number/percentage of sexual assaults is staggeringly high. Any women, anywhere, on this world has to live with the possibility of being sexually assaulted any moment. So no, it's not a thing of regional cultures, rather a thing of male culture. If in western cultures men could get away with rape, I believe the numbers would be similar. But maybe I'm to pessimistic.

There are rapists in all cultures, therefore we shouldn't single out and point fingers at certain cultural groups, is that it?
As the number of rapists in all cultures is extremely high, yes, exactly. Because otherwise one is implying that men in western cultures are inherently better, which is not the case.

There have been cases in which women have been found guilty of statutory rape. Therefore, women are rapists too. Why single out the men? Women do it too!
I didn't do that because that would be infamous. The vast, overwhelmingly majority of rapes/sexually assaults are comitted by men on women.

This is in reply to another contributionto this thread:
Other anecdata I've heard indicate that street harassment in any form is overwhelmingly the domain of immigrant men who look like they've arrived from cultures where men treat women worse than Finnish men do, and it sounds like incidents are on the rise.
If you've ever witnessed "Father's Day" here in Germany, when almost every ethnic German man is out with his friends and lots of alcohol, you might reconsider.

And, for not being misunderstood, I think too that some immigrants could profit from education regarding the topic here, but framing it along ethnic/cultural/religious not very helpful. There have been close to a million refugees fleeing the IS alone this year, just to put it into perspective. Judging all of them by the actions of the limited number of criminals in Cologne is pretty much the definition of racism.
posted by ojemine at 4:35 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is a bit of a derail, but I am not sure this is entirely accurate. The BNP say a lot of things, that they (possibly accidentally) got near the truth one time may been luck. I doubt it was because they are better at listening to women.

I never meant to suggest that the BNP were better at listening to women. They were simply better at talking about what was going on. Or rather, more willing. They didn't super-angst over everything or hope it would go away without being dealt with. Hence now why "Asian sex gang" and "Muslim grooming gang" are things. There are no longer individual criminals committing individual crimes, but a easy to repeat trope.
posted by Emma May Smith at 4:41 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Apologies if I've missed it but is there any indication about whether these men have been identified to the point where arrests and charges could be laid?
posted by Jalliah at 4:44 AM on January 9, 2016


No charges as yet. "The federal police documented 76 criminal acts, most them involving some form of theft, and seven linked to sexual assault."

Of course the right wing/corporate media are simply insisting that there were far more attacks but the police did not/will not act - how much that is true remains to be seen.
posted by colie at 4:49 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


So no, it's not a thing of regional cultures, rather a thing of male culture. If in western cultures men could get away with rape, I believe the numbers would be similar.

That's the old "all men are rapists" argument. I find that quite offensive.

As the number of rapists in all cultures is extremely high, yes, exactly. Because otherwise one is implying that men in western cultures are inherently better, which is not the case.

That is the old "all cultures are equivalent, therefore criticizing one culture makes you a racist" argument.

Men in western cultures are not inherently better. Rather, not all cultures are equal. For example, the culture of raping girls for punishment for something their brother did is downright evil. I see no point in defending that culture. In fact, I think the world would be a better place if that particular culture and custom (not the people, mind you) were eradicated.
posted by sour cream at 4:54 AM on January 9, 2016 [27 favorites]


"The federal police documented 76 criminal acts, most them involving some form of theft, and seven linked to sexual assault."

The actual numbers as of Friday evening are:
170 cases, about 75% of them sexual assault. The federal police numbers are lower, because they are just responsible for the train station.
posted by ojemine at 4:57 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


There had been 21 arrests as of yesterday. I don't know how long suspects can be kept in custody in Germany before being charged and the article linked doesn't enlighten on that fact.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:06 AM on January 9, 2016


So no, it's not a thing of regional cultures, rather a thing of male culture. If in western cultures men could get away with rape, I believe the numbers would be similar. But maybe I'm to pessimistic.

Where exactly do you think the fact that in some cultures men can "get away with it" comes from? It's a part of culture, it's not like there's a mysterious unexplained phenomenon in some places leading to more widespread oppression of women.

I'm more than aware of the amount of times that "I don't hate x, I just hate their culture" is used as an excuse for racism and the need to be sensitive to that and careful in these discussions but this wilful burying our heads in the sand is ludicrous.

If you accept that rape culture is real (which I would assume most people here do) and also that there are different cultures in the world, then it's just silly to deny that there might be more rape culture in certain cultures than others.
posted by Dext at 5:14 AM on January 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


That's the old "all men are rapists" argument. I find that quite offensive.
No it's not. Although almost all rapists are men, though. And many rapists commit multiple crimes.

And for what it's worth, all of the muslim people I know certainly don't believe that rape or sexual assault is acceptable.

In fact, I think the world would be a better place if that particular culture and custom (not the people, mind you) were eradicated.
I absolutely agree.

We shouldn't forget, though, that, for example, in western culture, pinching a random women in her back was totally acceptable behaviour until very recently. And so on and so forth. Or, an example from Germany, rape in marriage was totally legal until 1997(!). Or that being persecuted because you are a women is still no accepted reason for refugee status, so you face deportation.

As we say here, if you're sitting in a glass house, you shouldn't throw stones.
posted by ojemine at 5:18 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is not a cultural thing, this is men sexually attacking women to intimidate and victimize them and gain from it. Just like any other rape/sexual assault too.

This makes the most sense to me, now. Obviously not all the crimes have been reported or processed, and some may not be, but if it were as simple as a mob of raging gang rapists, involving thousands of men (or a thousand in one place, however many in others), one would think slightly more rapes (vs. assaults) would have been reported. Why the relative restraint on the part of the men, under those conditions, if it was mostly motivated by sexual dominance? That incident involving face-licking makes some sense now (not really but more sense than before).
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:18 AM on January 9, 2016


as the people (actually: men) in that village were, I believe, very aware of that being the most horrible act they could do to these women short of killing them.

Perhaps they were, but they used it as an official punishment. I can be incredibly aware that, say, horrifically mutilating someone is a bad thing to do, but if I am okay with doing it to my enemy, that speaks volumes about what my culture is willing to allow me to get away with.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 5:19 AM on January 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


That incident involving face-licking makes some sense now (not really but more sense than before).

The face licking is violating someone's bodily integrity without their consent. It makes as much or rather as little sense as any other such violation.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:23 AM on January 9, 2016


violating someone's bodily integrity without their consent.

What? Of course it is, absolutely - it is somehow more comprehensible (??) if distraction or confusion is part of the larger intent behind it. Or it seems that way to me.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:29 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Refugee women have been targets of these sexual assaults for years, both in the camps and in Europe. For those saying they want the immigration to stop/slow down "but not because I'm racist, I just don't want to expose our women to sexual assaults" (which I have seen a lot on reddit) I find it interesting that exactly zero of the comments have been that we need to actively seek out women and children as refugees for THEIR protection from not only the war but from fellow male refugees.

It has been a controversy in Canada that we were only selecting families that had been prescreened in the UN camps - no single men unless they found a personal sponsor. The men's rights groups have been calling it discrimination but I actually thought it was smart policy to focus on family groups that have a greater chance of eventually integrating. But we have the luxury of not having a land bridge connecting us to a war-torn country.

According to the UN, the demographics of who has been arriving in Europe is that only 16% have been adult women - the majority of which stay in the first "safe" country they get to. So the numbers of refugee men has been really heavily skewed in Germany etc, and has not been effective triage of who needs the help most immediately.
posted by saucysault at 5:32 AM on January 9, 2016 [22 favorites]


Could we stop discussing situations from India and Egypt in this thread? I understand that some people would like a general argument about whether men in some specific cultures really are terrible towards women, but so far none of the identified attackers where Indian or Egyptian and it seems that that's getting a bit lost now.

In general I feel that this discussion of cultural differences misses the point and is harmful because it assumes male culture as the default. As if women in all those cultures do not agree that sexual assault is awful and terrible. Hearing some of our politicians talk, they basically say "it's fine that sexual assault is common where you are come from, but we don't do that here, so if you want to continue sexually assaulting women, please do that in another country" which I find a terrible thing to say, but it's everywhere. Sexual assault is not just another custom, like how many cookies you can take from the cookie jar if you're visiting a friend (if you're in the Netherlands, apparently you should take 1 or 2 - I would totally fail that integration exam).

Which doesn't mean that it's not important that immigrants learn about women's rights and that some immigrants come from countries where women's rights are terrible, just that the discussion should be different and not be framed in terms of cultural differences but in terms of laws and human rights. I'm a bit disturbed that all the discussion is about how men should learn this, and not at all about how important it is that immigrant women learn their rights and learn their options if they are assaulted, where they learn that sexual assault is never okay and that it's never their fault, etc. The fact that there's so much attention in the media on men from other cultures who should learn how to treat women with respect "in our culture", and not at all on the women who are currently living with them kind of signals again to me that "it's fine if you assault your own women as long as you don't assault ours".
posted by blub at 5:36 AM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


We tend to see things not as they are but as we are...Is there a middle ground between the Right and the Left on this and other issues?
posted by Postroad at 5:51 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


We shouldn't forget, though, that, for example, in western culture, pinching a random women in her back was totally acceptable behaviour until very recently. And so on and so forth. Or, an example from Germany, rape in marriage was totally legal until 1997(!).

I'm not sure where it comes from, but this seems to be deep in the heads of many people these days: The inability of making a negative comment about any group of people, be it refugees, Muslims or foreigners, without tempering that negative comment with "we shouldn't forget though that we in the West are just as bad." You see that really a lot these days.

It's probably the deep fear of being mistaken for a racist. So you might agree that raping girls in India for punishment is bad, but you feel forced to clarify that you are not racist by asserting that your own people also have a long track record of sexual harrassment themselves.

In a way, it's a curious variation of the "I'm not racist, but..." trope.
posted by sour cream at 6:02 AM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


We tend to see things not as they are but as we are...Is there a middle ground between the Right and the Left on this and other issues?
There's not really such a clear difference between Right and Left in many European countries. In my country the main anti-immigration Party (the PVV) is heavily in favor of social security, government funded health care etc. That's exactly one of their arguments: why should we pay money to help "those people" when "our own people" now have to work until they're 70 and care for elderly people gets worse and worse, etc.
posted by blub at 6:02 AM on January 9, 2016


Blub, there are countries I can think of - none of the ones mentioned so far - in which women have full rights on paper, but lack practical access to an (almost non-existent) infrastructure for enforcing or supporting those rights, which means they might as well not exist. Where domestic violence is routine - widely understood to be how marriage is done in all but the highest classes (and even they're not immune to the divide between genders), to the extent that doctors and police collude to keep DV in the closet, where everyone agrees it belongs. I am not talking about this happening in a few corners here and there. Psychological and physical violence between men and women is the norm. Those beliefs and habits are bred into people, they become part of their basic assumptions, just as those of us who grew up with a slightly more robust sense of gender equality take it for granted.

Culture modulates (particular) values and instincts, as well as when and where you think it's a good idea to cross the street. It's real and deep, not a superficial veneer. Not much difference between some countries and regions, big big differences between others. Also, differences within countries - of course, not everyone from a given place will share those beliefs and habits for any number of reasons (like class or individual difference) - but broad comparisons without them, about general strands of action and thought, are not impossible.

Even deep beliefs and habits can change, sure. Agree that it won't happen through a weeklong class or test. It doesn't automatically happen through rights, either, it happens through experience.

(Also agree that the interests of women refugees should be better taken into account. But when a good number of men have done shocking things in the context of a sudden demographic shift, it is sort of understandable that people would be at least interested in why that is.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:11 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I agree that the discussion about India is becoming a derail, so maybe back to Cologne.

Of course the little Donald Trumps are having a feast right now. There will be a demonstration of the Anti-Islamic racists this afternoon, under the headline "Pegida protects". (Pegida is the informal alliance of racists, "concerned citizens" and Nazis.) There is a counter-demonstration of anti-fascist groups.

Earlier today was a demonstration of women's rights activists, reports say that many passerbies joined. Spiegel reports the mood as "defiant and buoyant".

The police expects clashes between the Pegida and the anti-fascist protesters.

Is there a middle ground between the Right and the Left on this and other issues?

I can't see how. The Right (that is pretty much the far Right) wants to shut the borders of Europe and send all refugees back, otherwise everybody in Europe will become Muslim (I'm not kidding, that is actually what their name is: Patriotic Europeans Againt the Islamization of the Occident). Parts of the middle-Right (Angela Merkel's party) wants to considerably limit the number of refugees (not Merkel, though). Smaller parts of the middle-left Social Democrats, who are in goverment with Merkel, want that too. The rest of the Social Democrats and the Left think that there has to be more education and integration, but one has to tread carefully, because of not giving ammunition to the racists.
posted by ojemine at 6:12 AM on January 9, 2016


It's probably the deep fear of being mistaken for a racist. So you might agree that raping girls in India for punishment is bad, but you feel forced to clarify that you are not racist by asserting that your own people also have a long track record of sexual harrassment themselves.

Rather not tooting the same horn as the racists do, who are actually mobilizing this very minute.

In a way, it's a curious variation of the "I'm not racist, but..." trope.

How that, exactly? Which part qualifies for the "but..."? Better: please explain how my words are similar to somebody uttering racist statements and thinks he can make them less racist by prefixing them with "I'm not racist, but...". Which part of what I wrote do you perceive as actually racist?
posted by ojemine at 6:22 AM on January 9, 2016


I've written out a comment and erased it so many times. Mostly I think because I'm trying to work out my own thought on this primarily because not only at work yesterday and through some media and comments, some here but mostly elsewhere that I'm supposed to be more angry about this happening because of who they apparently are then if it was someone else.

Thing is I'm not. I'm angry and upset but my reaction is nothing more or less then any other horrible story of women getting attacked and assaulted whether here or elsewhere. I've been trying to figure out why or even whether I should be. I'm still not entirely sure but I'm thinking it has to do with how I don't see manifestations of patriarchy and misogyny as something that is just part of particular culture. It's everywhere. It's pretty much a universal thing with differing cultures at different points of socially and legally determining what is acceptable or not. Our culture has had to fight, like really fight and is still fighting to get to where we are with it. And not only that we have to keep fighting to maintain and keep what we have. It's fucking insidious. Misogyny' as a cultural informer sure as hell isn't gone here or is going to disappear any time soon.

So now we have this and after my first thoughts after feeling horrible for the women and fuck those guys was fucking misogyny, not all men, not fuck culture x or y, but fucking misogyny as this ugly, horrible seemingly universal monster that informs cultures pretty much everywhere in some manner.

I'm well aware that there are cultures where acts of misogyny are more socially and legally acceptable and there are problems with people coming from one set of legal and social norms to another, for simplification purposes, cultures that are now better at telling misogyny to fuck off and die already. I use 'now' on purpose because it's not like our own long term social history is some golden example of non-misogynist culture. I don't have any clear thoughts on how to deal with it beyond the short term of making sure that the legal penalties are handed down as soon as possible so that these men in particular and others will get the message that at least this type of misogynist behaviour is not accepted in this particular culture whether they like it or not.
posted by Jalliah at 6:26 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


The Pegida rally is happening now. Live stream here from a German offshoot of Russia Today.
posted by roolya_boolya at 6:34 AM on January 9, 2016


I think the reality is that, because of globalisation, cultural insulation is becoming harder and harder - misogynists, racists and bigots over there can become misognyists and racists and bigots over here really quickly and there's only so much liberal nation states can do about that while still maintaining their basic liberal commitments. The short-term solution is aggressive and consistent law enforcement and a focus on education and integration of new immigrants, which I support. But the only long-term solution is the spread of respect for human rights in general, and women's rights in particular, to every culture. Of course I don't believe in quasi-imperial wars to "spread human rights", but I do think it's very important to support domestic feminist and human rights movements all over the world in the hope that, one day, "rape and sexual assault are always wrong and never permitted" will be a global norm agreed upon everywhere.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:00 AM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


Not much feeling good going on here as far as I can see.
posted by colie at 7:12 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


In a way, it's a curious variation of the "I'm not racist, but..." trope.

If your first reaction when a group consisting of predominantly X commits a crime somewhere is to bring up that a group consisting of predominantly Y committed a related crime elsewhere, and the only thing X and Y have in common is that they're another race than yourself, you might actually be pretty racist.

...

As for rape and cultures, reviews of Gebhardt's "Als die Soldaten kamen" have been trending in my feeds today. Among other things, it estimates that around 190,000 German women were raped by US soldiers in the aftermath of WW2. "Othering" is a very dangerous mechanism, no matter who does it. Combine that with a lack of law enforcement, and everything goes to shit.

So how to fix a combination of othering and lack of law enforcement? Well, *more* othering (ala Pegida and similar knuckleheads) is obviously not a solution, so the short term steps seem pretty fucking obvious to me.
posted by effbot at 7:15 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm supposed to be more angry about this happening because of who they apparently are then if it was someone else.

I'm not more angry because of who did this. But, as a women who lives in Europe I am scared. Not because of who did it but because it's a new phenomena here. One more thing to worry about when I leave the house. This seems like a severe escalation of harassment of women in public space and it happened in five separate countries in Europe on the same night. It could be something that I or my family/friends will encounter in future.

I don't want Europe to become a less welcoming place or to close its borders to people fleeing worse parts of the world. In fact that is the very opposite of what I want to happen. What I like most about Europe and the European project is our values. We are not by any means perfect at implementing them but we do it better than a lot of other places and I want us to continue improving as a society that respects everyone's rights.

Having said that I also don't want my safe access to public space to be diminished any further than it already is. And part of ensuring that is being able to examine and discuss this issue to the fullest extent possible in order to prevent something like this happening again.

I think that the Pegidas of this world and the men who assaulted those women are all assholes (and assholes of the same ilk since they don't respect others rights to just be). As noted by other commentators it is not a good situation when the only acceptable place to discuss the cultural context of these attacks (or the Rotherham example) is in the company of right wing, fascist, anti-immigrant parties. I can be pro-immigration but still want it to be handled better so that my society remains safe.

In the same way that an examination of recent cases in the States requires examining the particular brand of misogynistic entitlement that comes along with frat or football culture I want to be able to talk about the particular type of cultural misogyny that these attackers are coming from. Understanding it is a vital step to addressing it.

I live in Brussels. For the last two months or so there has been a pretty heavy police and army presence on the streets and, leaving aside the terrorism aspect, I feel so much safer walking around because the amount of harassment I experience has dropped dramatically. I know that if something happens and I yell out there will be an armed response in minutes. And so maybe that's the answer to keeping public spaces safe for women. A heavy police / military presence.

I'm also aware that even though it has been a benign experience for me I'm sure there are many people who are not small, blonde, women who are not enjoying the benefits of the heavy police presence as much as me and for valid reasons. So I'm not sure if that's the solution either.
posted by roolya_boolya at 7:30 AM on January 9, 2016 [31 favorites]


Mod note: Couple comments deleted. Please take discussion of moderation to the contact form or MetaTalk. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:30 AM on January 9, 2016


and the only thing X and Y have in common is that they're another race than yourself, you might actually be pretty racist.
How, pray, do they have in common being another race than myself? It seems that you base your accusation on a wrong premise.

bring up that a group consisting of predominantly Y committed a related crime elsewhere
Obviously *not* elsewhere.

"Othering" is a very dangerous mechanism, no matter who does it
Wouldn't be claiming that the attackers did the attacks because the come from another (allegedly more barbaric) culture be exactly that, "Othering"?
posted by ojemine at 7:34 AM on January 9, 2016


RIght now in the news, the police has disbanded the Pegida demonstration due to heavy violence by Pegida protesters. Spiegel online has this photo, people showing the Hitler salute, one has an Iron Cross cap.
posted by ojemine at 7:41 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


RIght now in the news, the police has disbanded the Pegida demonstration due to heavy violence by Pegida protesters. Spiegel online has this photo, people showing the Hitler salute, one has an Iron Cross cap.

There it is- lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas. It doesn't matter what feminist intentions you have when you repeat racist, fascist tropes about dark-skinned foreigners coming to your country and raping white women- a hole gets deeper no matter what your reason for contributing to its digging.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:45 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, I'm confused. Are the dogs at the top of the hole or the bottom of the hole? What about about the fleas?
posted by Balna Watya at 7:57 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


The original comment from the police chief reminds me of the famous Golda Meir anecdote about her reaction to the suggestion that a curfew should be imposed on women in Isreal to prevent them from from being raped. Looking at the Pegida photos (another sausage fest like the New Year's photos I have seen) perhaps their should be a curfew on men, or restrictions on men gathering in groups larger than two. The sexual assaults/violence has roots in culture; male culture.
posted by saucysault at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


Pope Guilty, I'm confused. Are the dogs at the top of the hole or the bottom of the hole? What about about the fleas?

You can't bang the "brown foreigners are raping white women!" (also holy shit the US has problems with catcalling and rape culture but not a word in here about being scared of Americans) drum and then get surprised when there's literal fascists in your group.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:05 AM on January 9, 2016


Wouldn't be claiming that the attackers did the attacks because the come from another (allegedly more barbaric) culture be exactly that, "Othering"?

I take "Othering" to mean treating a person as less than human because of his or her membership of some group. If I said all Arab men were rapists, I would be Othering because I'd be denying the humanity of individual Arab men; I'd be assuming that their membership of the group negated their free will and personal complexity and moral judgment, as well as ignoring many positive and worthwhile aspects of Arab culture. That would be not only inaccurate and stupid but morally wrong, because dehumanising.

But there's nothing inherently wrong with saying that a specific cultural norm - that happens to be prevalent in Saudi Arabia, or India, or Egypt, for example - normalises rape or violence, and should be rejected for that reason. I'm not saying anything about any particular Indian man when I say that there are culturally prevalent beliefs in India that are morally wrong, that can be a causal factor in rape or violence, and that should not be acceptable anywhere. Nor am I dehumanising anyone if I add that, if European societies are to have large-scale immigration from cultures where such beliefs are prevalent, we should make sure that we send a clear message that those beliefs are wrong and that those who act on them will be punished by law. The UK approach to forced marriage and to female genital mutilation, for example, is to make sure that these messages come across loud and clear so that victims from immigrant communities where these practices are a risk are empowered to get help and perpetrators are deterred. That seems sensible to me, not discriminatory, and it would be a waste of time to pretend that forced marriage and FGM aren't a risk that has to be proactively managed in the UK, given the presence in this country of communities where both practices are or were once a cultural norm. Yes, forced marriage exists as a risk in my ethnic and cultural group in a way that it doesn't among white British people. I don't feel that the state is Othering me or dehumanising me in recognising that fact. It would only be doing so if a policeman came to every Indian wedding and insisted that every Indian marriage is forced, without inquiry, which is not what's happening.

It's isn't Othering to analyse beliefs and practices that are common among some people or communities and to make some moral judgment about the value of the belief or practice and whether you want it to happen in your society. It's only Othering to believe that an individual having a particular skin colour or ethnic background or cultural history means they, personally, must necessarily hold some awful belief or participate in some awful practice that is unfortunately prevalent in that culture. For example, football hooliganism is depressingly common in England, but it would be stupid and offensive for Germans to assume that every English person ever is going to be a violent football hooligan. Nevertheless, it's sensible for them to send a clear message that hooliganism won't be tolerated in Germany when large numbers of English football fans turn up, and to take appropriate steps to enforce that rule. It would only be problematic if they immediately deported every English football fan without asking whether that particular person was actually doing anything wrong.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:14 AM on January 9, 2016 [35 favorites]


No, recognizing and discussing the possible contributing factor of the attackers' cultural background does not put you on the same side as the bigots and xenophobes. Nor does recognizing that, although Western culture has its problems with misogyny and rape, some other cultures are far, far worse.

What separates us from the xenophobes is that they use this to bolster their calls for an end to immigration and refugee claims, while we simply propose education as a solution.
posted by rocket88 at 8:27 AM on January 9, 2016 [14 favorites]




No, recognizing and discussing the possible contributing factor of the attackers' cultural background does not put you on the same side as the bigots and xenophobes.

Judging by the presence of Nazis at the Pegida protest, I think you're overestimating your ability to choose the membership of your side.

What separates us from the xenophobes is that they use this to bolster their calls for an end to immigration and refugee claims, while we simply propose education as a solution.

Ah, so it's not that you disagree with them about the problem, just that you propose a different solution.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2016


I don't think Pegida and "people who think cultural background needs to be taken into account" are perfectly overlapping categories - my understanding is that Pegida is basically a far-right political movement, which has a lot in common with the BNP. That there are Nazis at a Pegida rally is pretty unsurprising. But Angela Merkel has also described this as an issue with a cultural dimension, that can't just be seen as being about individual cases. I don't think that means she is a Nazi or that her government contains Nazis or that she would have any difficulty in distinguishing herself, ideologically, from Nazis (or, indeed, from Pegida).
posted by Aravis76 at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying that there's a one to one, only that when you find yourself in agreement with fascists a) you need to stop and think about what you're doing and b) you can't really complain that fascists are on your side.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:54 AM on January 9, 2016


Look, the fascists believe the weather is pretty shitty right now, and I agree with them on that; but that doesn't make us allies or friends.
posted by el io at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2016 [35 favorites]


Well, as someone upthread pointed out, the fascists also generally think universal healthcare and the welfare state are good things, so fleas all around, I guess.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:57 AM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


No, but it doesn't follow that you are morally responsible for fascists because you share some factual beliefs. I imagine that many fascists agree with me that it's 2016 not 1940, that ISIS are super-scary, that the Lord of the Rings is pretty great, that Norse mythology is cool, and that cathedrals are very pretty. They draw very different moral conclusions from those shared premises - because they are fascists - but that doesn't mean I need to somehow feel responsible for their beliefs or give up my interest in Odin because of their bizarre belief that Odin has something to do with justifying racism.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:58 AM on January 9, 2016 [28 favorites]


b) you can't really complain that fascists are on your side.

Closer to home: American Neo-Nazis are absolutely on my side when it comes to free speech laws, since they are among the largest beneficiaries of that policy. I am sure as hell going to complain if someone attempts to categorize my support of free speech as being in any way linked to or having anything to do with Neo-Nazis (or the fascism they represent).

when you find yourself in agreement with fascists a) you need to stop and think about what you're doing
It's when I find myself agreeing with them on a particular point (attitudes regarding consent vary between cultures) within a broader category where they hold reprehensible beliefs (other cultures are inferior/evil), that I need to stop and check what I say.

I could not possibly care less whether they agree with me about a $15 minimum wage, and won't be checking any of my positions on economics against theirs.
posted by Ryvar at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Pope Guilty, I'm not totally sure what you're intending here but it looks like you're trying to play gotcha, and that isn't going to work.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:09 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't know who has said "brown people are rapists". I'm a brown person, and I can't remember saying anything of the kind or reading anything of the kind in the thread. I think, with respect, that race is obscuring culture here in a really unhelpful way. I am happy to lay out all the cultural norms I think are scary and worth rejecting in predominantly white cultures (American gun culture is in my top ten) and I frankly don't see why I shouldn't adopt the same approach to predominantly brown cultures, including my own.
posted by Aravis76 at 9:23 AM on January 9, 2016 [27 favorites]


It's a really fascinating case study in cognitive dissonance. When it's a central belief that you should not even permit the debate, to say the least of agree, that European culture is better than other cultures or European countries should limit immigration, its demand hard to analyze, to say the least of act decisively against, these developments.
posted by MattD at 9:33 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know if posing the question "is European culture better than other cultures?" is a massive contribution to analysis of the problem here, since the terms are so vague and impossible to define. I don't think we need to determine if Wagner is better than the Ramayana or if Cologne cathedral is better than the Dome of the Rock or if women are safer in Germany than in Japan. The debate is better served by precise questions about specific moral norms, not "culture" and "Europe" in the abstract.
posted by Aravis76 at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


variations on "facts can't be racist"

Facts can't be racist. Value judgements based upon those facts can be racist, and facts can be used in racist or non-racist ways. But race isn't culture, and that distinction needs to be very clear during these discussions.

My great-grandmother was shot and murdered by my great-grandfather because he thought she was having an affair. Domestic partner violence happens everywhere, even today. What turns my great-grandmother's death into an honor killing isn't just the fact that she died -- it's that, after her death, the community raised money for my great-grandfather's defense (ultimately unsuccessful: he died in prison) and that their children were raised in a family which taught them that my great-grandmother's death was her fault. That's a cultural difference.

FWIW, saying that we can re-educate family members to not practice honor killings actually is kinder to my great-grandfather than we might otherwise be. He was an immigrant. He didn't know better. (This is, of course, complete BS.) Saying we could have re-educated family members to not approve of her death is more optimistic and it's still kinder to my ancestors than we would be were the same situation to have happened today. The alternative is to insist that all of my ancestors were, deep down, bad people because they blamed a woman for her murder and taught her children to do the same. The other alternative -- the one you seem to be clinging to -- is to insist that my current family would behave the same way were my mother or cousin accused of having an affair. This is perhaps the most insulting of all of these.

My family, for the record, were Italian immigrants. Does that make me saying that my family came from a culture that approves of honor killings any more acceptable?
posted by steady-state strawberry at 9:54 AM on January 9, 2016 [18 favorites]


Funny how many rape prevention tips come down to "make sure somebody else gets raped instead".

What?! How is "stay in a group, don't talk to strangers" making sure someone else gets raped instead? I'm not saying it's the right reaction to all this, but seriously, what?!
posted by maryr at 10:01 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the point is the rapists will just find someone who hasn't followed the advice, so ultimately it doesn't do anything to solve the problem of rape. (Ignoring of course that the advice isn't generally that helpful in the first place.)
posted by Drinky Die at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2016


For what it's worth, the protesters at the feminist rally today at noon did hold up signs like "Sexists and assholes are everywhere" or "No violence against women".

The Pegida assholes had this to contribute.

My point being, if one's argument, as well intended as it is, becomes hardly distinguishable from the arguments of racists and fascists, then maybe it might be better to reconsider if, at this time, there is maybe a more productive way to approach the problem.

It has been proposed in this thread that there should be mandatory education for *all* immigrants. This implies the belief that all, or at least an overwhelming majority need this education. The counterpoint is that some need that, as well as a not so small number of inlanders. This is worthy of debate. Unfortunately, one side of this debate is hijacked by the racists, who strive to, and as the last months have shown, succeed in becoming more mainstream.

So saying, quite correctly, it must be possible to discuss the problem from that angle, and overlooking that the debate is not happening in a vacuum, is maybe not very helpful. At least at this moment in time.

(And, for perspective, it might be worth mentioning that a lot of the refugees are actually fleeing from the mass rapes ISIS commits.)
posted by ojemine at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


The primary question should be can we catch the perpetrators of this violence? Can we prosecute them to the full extent of the law? All this other discussion is political and moral posturing, for reasons that have the least to do with the victims.

I could give a shit what culture or race these perpetrators claim as thier own. And I don't want to hazard a guess as to what race or culture is responsible for the event. I just want the perps caught. This should be the focus.
posted by valkane at 10:06 AM on January 9, 2016 [17 favorites]


^(Bangs table with fist)
posted by clavdivs at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


And so maybe that's the answer to keeping public spaces safe for women. A heavy police / military presence.

Unless the police and soldiers are also down with doing some raping themselves that evening, unfortunately.
posted by jfwlucy at 11:21 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


It seems that you base your accusation on a wrong premise.

I was about to say that "you" in English doesn't necessarily mean "the MeFi who wrote the comment I quoted, as a lead in to my own comment" but then I realized that I didn't even quote you, so not sure how you interpreted my comment as an accusation. It wasn't, and judging from your other comments in this thread, we're in pretty broad agreement.
posted by effbot at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2016


This is all getting crazy because people are saying things like "Oh, do you think Western men are somehow /better/?" No, nobody thinks men from any culture are inherently better, deep down, than any other. But it's fucking ludicrous to take all the hard-won gains that the women's liberation movement has had and suggest that they are somehow negated by the fact that men still rape, or to act shocked and appalled at the very suggestion that culture that has had active, widespread feminist work for forty years may be at least slightly more accepting of women than culture that has not. This isn't a fucking moral judgment, or a Who Is Better judgment, this is acknowledging the successful work of women, because they are sure as shit the only ones who change things.

As a woman who has traveled widely, I can absolutely say that there were places I felt safer from strangers than others. For example, Germany, which has, as do most countries, a sexual assault problem, but one largely based on acquaintance danger and blurred consent, rather than gang attacks in the motherfucking street. Just because both things are bad does not mean that this is basically 'more of the same'. This is threatening the ability of women to feel safe in a public space. This is in many ways a terroristic assault if in fact it was coordinated - to 'show women their place'.

And I have to say I'm fucking disgusted and broken hearted by the amount of people trying to jump through hoops to avoid saying that somehow this kind of behavior is monstrous, how willing people are to throw women under the bus as soon as they think their statements might be used to further right wing aims. This reminds me of nothing so much as the sexual assault problem in my anti-war organization, which people defended doing nothing about and not calling the police because "the right wing bloggers would have a field day." Don't stop doing what's right because someone else might use it for propo.
posted by corb at 11:31 AM on January 9, 2016 [79 favorites]


But it's fucking ludicrous to take all the hard-won gains that the women's liberation movement has had and suggest that they are somehow negated by the fact that men still rape, or to act shocked and appalled at the very suggestion that culture that has had active, widespread feminist work for forty years may be at least slightly more accepting of women than culture that has not.

Word. Fucking word. I can't quote this enough.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 11:38 AM on January 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


From the Guardian: "Of the 31 people identified, nine were Algerian, eight Moroccan, five Iranian, four Syrian and two German, plus an Iraqi, a Serb and a US citizen."

And yet all the outcry is against non-Western cultures.

So: some Algerians living in Germany commit a crime, therefore their culture is bad, as is proved by another story about a Hindu village. And presumably the best response is to make the lives of Syrian refugees shittier.

Some Germans, and American, and a Serb commit a crime... silence.

Crime makes people upset, but the right answer to crime is never "let's go on an orgy of hate against people from the criminal's homeland."
posted by zompist at 12:43 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


but the right answer to crime is never "let's go on an orgy of hate against people from the criminal's homeland"

Nobody here would disagree with you and nobody here has proposed that answer to this crime.
posted by rocket88 at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is in many ways a terroristic assault if in fact it was coordinated - to 'show women their place'.

I've been hesitant to post in this thread and I'm glad corb stated what I was thinking. These attacks absolutely fit the terrorist definition, and I'd argue that the attacks were done to satisfy multiple aims – yes, to victimize women but also to stir up the right. Daesh are smirking right now, I would bet. This is exactly what they want - to goad, provoke and destabilize the West. They're gunning for a backlash. It's what they want. Just because it isn't a sophisticated military-type assault involving guns and death doesn't mean it isn't warfare.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is in many ways a terroristic assault if in fact it was coordinated - to 'show women their place'.
But with terrorist attacks by muslims, when they shoot people, we don't say "well, that's their culture, we should teach immigrants that shooting other people is wrong and against our norms" (well, some people say it, but I think most people here would agree that that's a ridiculous argument, even though it is true that those people do come from cultures where violence is much more common than here).
posted by blub at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2016


therefore their culture is bad, as is proved by another story about a Hindu village.

The story about the Hindu village proves only that the feminist achievement in Western Europe isn't just the automatic result of human nature everywhere in the world - women's safety in public spaces is the result of a lot of work and it's not racist to note that there are a number of places in the world where that work has not yet progressed as far as it needs to. The point is to rebut the argument that women in Europe are exactly as (un)safe as women anywhere in the world and run an equal risk of being assaulted on the street for existing, so that the big fuss about Cologne is just racism (since this is a thing that totally happens everywhere, all the time). That's not true. Germany is normally safer for women in public spaces than India, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Afghanistan, Iraq and many many other places. Yes, India is very different from the Arab world in a bunch of ways but unfortunately honour culture is a similarity and honour culture is extremely dangerous to women. No one - I hope - is criticising "non-Western" cultures in general, only anti-feminist and pre-feminist ideas about women that are more prevalent in some cultures than they now are in Europe.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2016 [27 favorites]


But with terrorist attacks by muslims, when they shoot people, we don't say "well, that's their culture, we should teach immigrants that shooting other people is wrong and against our norms"

Did you read any of the commentary over the Charlie Hebdo massacre? Some very smart people tied themselves into knots over the issue. Although they could not condone murder, they sought as far as possible to lay blame on the victims. It wasn't pretty, and it still goes on a year later. There are folks out there who still insist that the writers of Charlie Hebdo were racists in spite all the overwhelming evidence the contrary. Thankfully their voices are being marginalized, especially in the light of the Bataclan massacre which could not be so easily excused.

I sincerely hope that a new way of understanding these issues is developed. Integrating reasonable fears and concerns that people have but still managing to treat refugees, immigrants, and members of minorities as individuals who are not responsible for the crimes of others who merely look like them. Somebody needs to sort the sheep from the goats, and not be afraid to do so. The alternative is that everybody goes to hell.
posted by Emma May Smith at 1:23 PM on January 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


This is in many ways a terroristic assault if in fact it was coordinated

Chances are that it was coordinated in the same way as e.g. this incident (one of many, that's just the first google hit) was coordinated -- "hey, you should be here" messages propagating in social circles on WhatsApp or Treema or whatever german youths are using these days.
posted by effbot at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


You can't associate citizenship with allegiance. See Richard Reid (the shoe bomber, a British citizen), for example. There are plenty of radicalized people out there whose citizenship doesn't mean anything at all. Just because someone is a US citizen doesn't mean they necessarily participate in Western culture.
posted by disclaimer at 2:03 PM on January 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, saying 4 of the 31 identified were citizens of Western countries doesn't say much. First, that's not a high number, and second we don't know their cultural background.
posted by Justinian at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]



- As with Rochdale the idea that the police are afraid of being seen as racist by blaming immigrants is laughable.

Not in this case, the fear of stoking resentment was precisely the reason local authorities had initially denied this had anything to do with refugees/asylum seekers - and that’s why the Cologne police chief resigned, after reports came out with police officers revealing they had checked papers and many were indeed asylum seekers.
"Among the identity checks that were carried out, the majority of people were only able to produce evidence of registration as an asylum seeker from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees [BAMF]," a police report dated January 2nd, seen by Die Welt, recorded.

That directly contradicts statements by Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers in a press conference on Tuesday, when he said that police had little or no information about the background of the attackers.
The incompetence there was political, authorities miscalculated that the initial reticence in official statements would backfire so badly, and give more ammunition to the far right and Pegida about the media and authorities lying or covering up problems with migrants/refugees/muslims/the invaders, etc..

And indeed, there had been reports of sexual attacks and rapes inside asylum centres too - against refugee women themselves. They never got that much attention though. And there were already accusations that the authorities were playing down those cases:
Tuelin Akkoc, spokeswomen for refugee affairs with the opposition Green Party in Hamburg, accepted that far-right groups might use such reports to turn sentiment against migrants. But she told Reuters: "That's no reason to sweep this issue under the carpet. Right now is the time for the authorities to raise their voices in order to prevent extremist groups from dominating the debate."
That was a few months ago...

- If you read the police reports they were just overwhelmed by the scale of the thing.

- "At 8:57 a.m. on the morning of January 1, the Cologne police department's press department released a statement under the heading: 'Festive Atmosphere -- Celebrations Largely Peaceful.'"



Yes, that’s before the first news even came out, that’s the initial "nope, nothing happened here" official statements. What sobarel was referring to were those later accounts from the actual police officers on the scene - here’s a detailed description of how those officers responded that night, from an internal report given to the press.
The police vans were themselves the targets of thrown fireworks as they pulled into their parking spaces, and people immediately rushed to the officers to report thefts, violence and sexual assaults against women.

"Even the appearance of police officers on the scene... didn't hold the masses back from their actions," the report notes. ...

Fearing that the situation could get even worse and that the ongoing throwing of fireworks could lead to injury or death, police commanders decided to clear the square outside the station beginning at around 11:30pm.

"State and federal police officers were repeatedly fired on with fireworks and had bottles thrown at them during the clearance," the report read.

... Despite fights breaking out between police and people under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, the square was clear by around 12:15am.

But the chaos around the station continued, with the officer recording "numerous crying and shocked women reporting sexual assaults by several male migrants or groups."

"The officers on the ground couldn't gain control of all of the events, attacks and crimes – there were simply too many at the same time for that to be possible."

At some points officers were too busy even to be able to record crimes people were trying to report.

The report also notes that many of the perpetrators were mocking police throughout the night and saying they knew they would face no consequences for their actions.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:28 PM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


The story about the Hindu village proves only that the feminist achievement in Western Europe isn't just the automatic result of human nature everywhere in the world - women's safety in public spaces is the result of a lot of work and it's not racist to note that there are a number of places in the world where that work has not yet progressed as far as it needs to.

That's not true. Unless "all of the places" is a number now.
posted by Dysk at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2016


Right, that was imprecise phrasing - there are many places where the work hasn't progressed as far as it has in Western Europe. I don't think that alters my fundamental point that there are differences in attitudes to women that vary not only in degree but in kind across the world.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:39 PM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


But with terrorist attacks by muslims, when they shoot people, we don't say "well, that's their culture, we should teach immigrants that shooting other people is wrong and against our norms" (well, some people say it, but I think most people here would agree that that's a ridiculous argument, even though it is true that those people do come from cultures where violence is much more common than here).

I don't think the classes that were discussed above are designed to teach immigrants that terrorism in any form is wrong, though. The idea is to help them adjust to the local culture and not break any laws due to ignorance of them. Immigrants from more conservative countries don't need to be told that shooting people is wrong and illegal, but they (both men and women) may need - and want - to learn about the different place of women in society, the different ideas about sexual consent and how much it matters, and the legal rights that women have - things that the local men and women are already expected to know.

As for making the classes mandatory, and only so for immigrants from particular countries - I don't see how you can do that. That would be discriminatory and stigmatizing and it could easily backfire by marginalizing the people you should be trying to integrate. A different approach is needed and I'm sure there are lots of people more qualified than I am to describe it in detail. That approach is not one that denies that women are treated better in some cultures than in others, though.
posted by Mila at 4:53 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, saying 4 of the 31 identified were citizens of Western countries doesn't say much. First, that's not a high number,

No, it's not. 4 is also the number of Syrians given in that report. Yet somehow that's enough to justify collective condemnation and punishment for all Syrian refugees.

Is 1,000 a big number? At least that many Pegida right-wingers protested today in Cologne. Should we consider that "German culture" is to blame for that, or is it "European culture"?

If this were happening in the US, I think we'd recognize and refrain from the Trumpism. There are undoubtedly Mexican criminals, yet people rightly condemn Trump for describing illegal immigrants as "Mexican rapists". Some Muslims shoot people in Paris, Trump wants to retaliate against all Muslim immigrants— I don't think Mefi is on board with that. When blacks protest police intimidation, Trump quotes wingnut sites about black crime— we can see the racism.

Look, it's not that hard: when you hear about a crime, don't take it out on that person's nationality. That's the right-wing response. And making it about "culture" does not make collective punishment and collective responsibility OK.

Somehow people get this when it comes to white people. No one's attacking Serbian culture because of that Serbian criminal. No one's attacking German culture because of the two Germans or because of the thousand far-right protesters. But out of half a million refugees, some number participate in terrible crimes, and suddenly it's all about their culture.

One more number for you.... zero. That's the number of Turkish suspects in that report. Which is kind of interesting, since they're the largest non-German ethnic background in the country. Is Turkish culture so much better than Arab culture? Or just maybe what makes people criminals isn't simply their national culture, huh?
posted by zompist at 5:09 PM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is 1,000 a big number? At least that many Pegida right-wingers protested today in Cologne. Should we consider that "German culture" is to blame for that, or is it "European culture"?

People on Mefi not only should but as a matter of routine do blame our culture of white privilege for white racist movements. We blame Church culture for the Catholic abuse scandal. We blame college culture for Penn State and Frat abuses. We blame male supremacist culture for attacking abortion rights.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:28 PM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


The scale and size of these attacks make it sound like a frenzy. I think the comparison to concert/festival rapes and to the violence in Tahrir Square seem more apt then looking into basic cultural differences. The common denominator could be lots of drunken young men and no police.
posted by chaz at 5:31 PM on January 9, 2016


Exactly, we blame our culture for bad things all the time.
posted by Justinian at 5:54 PM on January 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


What makes me sad is that this has Merkel et al questioning their own values and diminishing their moral stature
posted by infini at 6:46 PM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's not simple at all, zompist, but ignoring context doesn't improve our understanding of this.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:15 PM on January 9, 2016


And so maybe that's the answer to keeping public spaces safe for women. A heavy police / military presence.

Unless the police and soldiers are also down with doing some raping themselves that evening, unfortunately.


Um, so did you read the paragraph of my comment that came after the one you quoted or did you just cherry pick and quote out of context to suit your own message?
posted by roolya_boolya at 8:07 PM on January 9, 2016


People on Mefi not only should but as a matter of routine do blame our culture of white privilege for white racist movements. We blame Church culture for the Catholic abuse scandal. We blame college culture for Penn State and Frat abuses. We blame male supremacist culture for attacking abortion rights.

That's pretty different to saying "they did it because they were American". Blaming rape or church culture, or white supremacy, or college culture is quite different to blaming a national culture. And fundamentally, rape culture is the issue here. Yes, it may have a greater presence in some national cultures than others, but why not tackle rape culture, rather than going at it indirectly by demonising Arab culture?
posted by Dysk at 12:41 AM on January 10, 2016


Blaming rape or church culture, or white supremacy, or college culture is quite different to blaming a national culture.

How so? To my view, all of those types of culture tend to often be inextricably intertwined.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:47 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


just maybe what makes people criminals isn't simply their national culture, huh?

Literally no one is saying that their national culture makes people into criminals. What they are saying is that where people are criminals, the nature of the crime is often conditioned by cultural context. This is why Americans have mass shootings and Indians, by and large, don't and why Indians have bride burnings and Americans, by and large, don't.

Look, I get the desire to draw a sharp line against racists and fascists who begin sentences with "all Muslims / Arabs / whoever", and to reject the whole idea of talking about people collectively. When racists and fascists are old fashioned enough to straight-up talk about race - skin colour, bloodline, whatever - we can tell them straightforwardly that their category is literally meaningless and has no morally-relevant content. Race in the racist meaning of the term - some biologically determined characteristic - explains literally nothing about a person or any of his choices. Any conversation about causal relevance of the race of the perpetrators of a crime is always going to be nonsensical and only racists, who believe "race" has content as a category, will do that.

But unfortunately a lot of the modern racists and fascists understand that their traditional language is deeply discredited and have made the switch - at least when talking to us and not to each other - to "culture". This is problematic because culture isn't actually an empty and meaningless concept, so we can't give them the same reply we offer when they talk about race. (Or, if we do, we sound delusional or inaccurate and then the reply becomes self-defeating, because a mainstream conspiracy against embattled racists and fascists is one of their articles of faith). It's pointless to argue that culture is simply empty of all content and can't contribute to our understand of crime, as it contributes to our understanding of all other human acts. The only thing to be done is to engage in the conversation and point out, at the level of detail, all the mistakes and inaccuracies in the fascist account of the targeted culture - the Pegida lot believe things about Islam and Sharia that are just factual nonsense - and, yes, also to acknowledge problems where they exist and point to perfectly rational solutions that aren't fascism. I'm not going to get anywhere if I tell a British fascist that female genital mutilation is "nothing to do with culture" and that, even if he deported everyone who looked like me or is a few shades darker, there would still be FGM happening in the Home Counties. Of course it is to do with culture. But since cultures change all the time, abandoning some norms and adopting others, the liberal state absolutely has the resources and the (criminal law) incentives to make sure this particular norm changes and no one has to be deported or detained without trial or anything. Which is good for Britain because there is more to, for example, Nigerian culture than FGM and life is better here because of the thread contributed by the Nigerian community. This is a harder argument to make than the standard reply to racism - "your categories are bullshit" - but I think it's the only feasible option.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:04 AM on January 10, 2016 [35 favorites]


The Left is going to collapse due to hair splitting, infighting and its inability to reconcile what is happening with what it wants to believe (plus absolute denial of history and human nature), while the Right is going to beat the drums of war and will gather strength, followers, and legitimacy because fear, more than any other force, is what motivates people. Massive civil unrest, disorder, and economic chaos will follow. This is the soil in which Daesh will plant their seeds.

The cycle of fascism – oh, look, it's already happening.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:14 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


No one's attacking German culture because of the two Germans or because of the thousand far-right protesters.

No one is "attacking" any culture, but I've certainly seen German reflections both on violence against women in Germany generally and on the authoritarian past and whether modern Germans have moved on, culturally, from the preoccupations of that past. Again, we are ceding ground to fascists if we don't demonstrate that liberal states are perfectly capable of realistic responses to social changes and social problems -- one of which problems, of course, is the fascist movement itself. There's no need to lose our heads and panic either that Pegida has won the argument or that any acknowledgment that anything unusual happened in Cologne will hand the country over to Pegida immediately. I think Angela Merkel is doing a decent job and that the majority of Germans, after an initial panic, will figure things out while keeping to their core constitutional commitments to liberalism and generosity to asylum-seekers.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Germany, which has, as do most countries, a sexual assault problem, but one largely based on acquaintance danger and blurred consent, rather than gang attacks in the motherfucking street.
Do people really think that in western Europe sexual assault consists mostly of issues with "blurred consent"?

There was a news story a few months ago here were a woman who was sexually assaulted in a bar (a stranger slipped his hand through her skirt and grabbed her crotch) tried to go to the police. The police did not want to take her statement initially, she could come back and press charges in two weeks if she really wanted to and had thought about the potential consequences. The person in charge of the sex crimes department said that this was because "we have to be careful that men do not get falsely accused". She was also told that they handle really serious sex crimes like child rape there (in a "what are you even doing here" way). She was literally asked about the length of her skirt (let me repeat, this happened in 2015). In the bar where it happened, the personnel did not want to throw the man out. The response was largely that this was just a thing that happens, you should just learn how to deal with that as a woman. Some online commenters vilified her (she was just a [gendered expletive] who wants to make the man miserable, he was just drunk, those things happen all the time, why does she still wear skirts). Judging by their names it seems very likely that these people were born here.

See also the responses when our former prime minister Lubbers was accused of sexual assault. Many responses about that were not "surely he would not have done that" but "geesh, if that is sexual assault then I have assaulted women many times".

So, when people, including a professor of integration and migration, say that white western men have a lot to learn too, they don't just mean that they have to learn the finer details of affirmative consent, they do also mean exactly this kind of assault that is still feel very common and very much ingrained in our culture.
posted by blub at 2:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


How so? To my view, all of those types of culture tend to often be inextricably intertwined.

It locates the problem in the problematic aspects of culture, rather than locating it a nationality. Ie it says the problem is rape culture, not that the problem is Arabness. By explicitly acknowledging that it is that aspect of culture, you avoid claiming that it is the national culture itself. Arab culture can still be Arab culture with less rape culture, for example, much as British culture is still British culture, for example. You can retain national identities and cultures and work on the problematic aspects, but it requires that you don't place the blame for incidents like the one under discussion in the national culture itself.
posted by Dysk at 2:59 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


That story shows how and where the cops overlooked all the reports.
posted by infini at 3:10 AM on January 10, 2016


I don't want to deny that sexual assault is a problem in Western Europe generally, or that European men still have some awful attitudes to women. But I still think the risk of this kind of mass sexual violence is something that feels consistent with my anxiety in Delhi or Mumbai and foreign to my experience of Europe. When I'm Delhi, I worry about how I dress and what time it is and where I go all the time, especially if I'm alone and on foot. (I would do my best to avoid being alone and on foot in many public places in Delhi.) I've never made those calculations in London, even though the occasional random man can make me feel unsafe in London; I've never felt that kind of low-level background simmer of risk anywhere in the UK, or Germany, or France, and I have felt it in other places in the world. It's a cultural difference.

On preview -- I'm not arguing that this a difference unique to Arab culture or Muslim culture. I'm arguing it's a difference that is actually unique to cultures (like those of Western Europe) where feminist social norms have taken a stronger foothold than elsewhere in the world; every society where such norms are weaker are less safe for women. Of course Arab culture would remain distinctively and valuably Arab if women's rights were respected as much in Arab society as they are in German society. That doesn't mean we shouldn't acknowledge that they currently aren't respected to the same extent and that this is a problem.
posted by Aravis76 at 3:15 AM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Deutsche Welle:

German Justice Minister: Cologne attacks planned in advance
"Minister of Justice Heiko Maas has said he believes the sexual assaults in Cologne were 'coordinated and prepared' ahead of time. He also accused xenophobic groups of using the crimes to stir up hatred."
Cologne New Year assault reports more than double in number.
"Cologne police have said the number of women coming forward with complaints that they were assaulted on New Year's Eve has risen to 379. A large minority of the reported crimes were said to be of a sexual nature."
posted by amf at 3:30 AM on January 10, 2016


It locates the problem in the problematic aspects of culture, rather than locating it a nationality. Ie it says the problem is rape culture, not that the problem is Arabness.

Right so there was no Catholic cultural problem we should look at, it was rape culture. There was no Penn State problem we should look at, it was rape culture. There is no frat problem we should look at, it's rape culture.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


There were all of those problems. This would be like if instead of talking about Penn State culture or frat culture, you just left it at American culture and started taking about how we need to start being wary of letting Americans into the country.

Specificity, yo.
posted by Dysk at 4:04 AM on January 10, 2016


Okay, with specificness, how should I refer to the culture this man is from:


When he first arrived in Europe, Abdu Osman Kelifa, a Muslim asylum seeker from the Horn of Africa, was shocked to see women in skimpy clothes drinking alcohol and kissing in public. Back home, he said, only prostitutes do that, and in locally made movies couples “only hug but never kiss.”

posted by Drinky Die at 4:09 AM on January 10, 2016


What is the problem that needs addressing in that man? What we need to address here with regard to the incidents in the FPP is rape culture. Not Arab culture. If we target and dicuss rape culture we do not Other or ostracise anyone, and we can maybe start looking at solutions that tackle it everywhere in our society, not just in immigrants. That'd be fucking awesome.

Instead, oh no, Arab culture, better start turning away or re-educating immigrants and refugees!
posted by Dysk at 4:17 AM on January 10, 2016


Like, you're trying to pull a completely unrelated 'gotcha' here. I was clearly talking about this discussion and ones like it, not all discourse in any context, ever.

And the word is specificity, not specificness. Specificness isn't a word.
posted by Dysk at 4:20 AM on January 10, 2016


We're in agree to disagree territory here. Thanks for the discussion.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:25 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Also, Merriam-Webster.)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:35 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mod note: Comment deleted. Again. dgaicun, stop trolling this thread.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:36 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


For those still following and interested in the specifics - there is an interesting interview with the Mayor of Cologne in the English version of Spiegel. She also talks of the reactions to her "arm’s length" suggestion, and about the attack against her before she was elected - she was stabbed in the throat by a man who was against her pro-refugee policy. I find it ironic in a sad way, that she ended up being excoriated more than anyone else, more than the police chief, for that one unfortunate comment.

It also gives a good idea of the complicated levels of political management in the German federal system. (You always have to ask someone else in Germany! Mayors and police might as well be living in parallel universes sometimes.)
posted by bitteschoen at 6:22 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


there is an interesting interview with the Mayor of Cologne in the English version of Spiegel.

She does seem to have knack for saying bizarre and inappropriate things. The comment about having "a problem with young women who have given up the opportunities that I helped to fight for" comes out of nowhere and reads as pretty sexist to me - who are these woman and what exactly have they done for her to judge them as having given up the opportunities that feminism brought?

And I have no idea how to parse her saying of being stabbed that "It's a feeling that may be like rape. I don't know."
posted by roolya_boolya at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]






Mod note: One deleted; just go ahead and make your point without the sarcasm.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:33 AM on January 10, 2016


I see people here and elsewhere talking about this as an organised terror attack. Is there actually any evidence whatsoever for that? I can see a lot of the Gates of Vienna types talking it up, but so far not much to support them.

To me, the evidence available right now tends to suggest something more like recognisable forms of street crime, albeit an outlier on the spectrum of scale. Swarming and distraction are established tactics for street robbery and gangs with that modus operandi have been reported prior to NYE in many European cities. The Germans even had a word for it already "Antänzer"

Nor regrettably, is there anything terribly unusual about there being an element of sexual assault to such crimes, given that such crimes frequently exhibit a dimension of asserting power and women are frequently seen as vulnerable targets for such attacks.
posted by Caractacus at 8:41 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the Spiegel piece, the caption under the photo starts with "In an interview, Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker, 59, discusses ... [things that are unrelated to her age]."

From the interview:

SPIEGEL: What did you dress up as [for Carnival] last year?

Reker: Some won't find this to be politically correct, but I dressed up as a Chinese woman last year.

posted by Mila at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2016


Dysk, nobody is saying rape culture isn't the problem. But do you really believe that certain regions and subcultures don't have more deep and intractable rape culture than others, because the work there has either been more dangerous or it didn't start at the same time or what have you? Do you genuinely think rape culture is not worse in places where women can't own property or drive or have independence from their male relatives?
posted by corb at 8:46 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I see people here and elsewhere talking about this as an organised terror attack. Is there actually any evidence whatsoever for that?

I don't think anyone has compared it to terrorism in this thread. There does seem to be some evidence that it was organised.

The first article linked in this comment cites details from police reports about use of social media to encourage men to participate.

The Helsinki police chief said that they had been tipped off in advance about what had been planned for NYE in that city.

One of the links above (I'm sorry I'm not sure which) had an eye witness account describing co-ordination of the Cologne attacks by a small number of men who were directing others what to do.

Given the scale and scope of the assaults I think it's pretty legitimate to question if there was some kind of pre-planning or co-ordination.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sure but swarming as a tactic of criminal gangs is a well established phenomenon. Kind of like a violent flash mob.
posted by Caractacus at 9:23 AM on January 10, 2016


See e.g. http://tinyurl.com/humnvxa
posted by Caractacus at 9:25 AM on January 10, 2016


That link on swarming specifically discusses organisation. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you but I'm not sure how it resembling a swarming attack means it wasn't organised. It would rather seem to imply the opposite since swarming is a tactic commonly used by gangs.

Yes, similar tactics may have been used before but not on such a large scale in several European cities on the same night and primarily targeted at women.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:34 AM on January 10, 2016


I wasn't suggesting that some level of organisation wasn't present, but rather that it was more along the lines of criminal gang stuff than global and politically motivated, as some on the right seem to want to suggest.

I haven't seen any particularly compelling evidence to suggest that the organisation was pan-European though, whether criminal or political. Given that the tactics are fairly common, albeit on a smaller scale, you'd expect similar stuff to happen elsewhere without hypothesising wider organisation. Not that it couldn't have happened.
posted by Caractacus at 9:46 AM on January 10, 2016


It's entirely possible that a gang could have contacts in several cities and spread the idea.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:57 AM on January 10, 2016


Just heard a report on TV that said there is evidence that the attacks were "organized" similar to the mobs attacking women on Tahrir square in Kairo, i.e. through social media urging other young men to participate. They even noted the Arabic word for that.

Anyway, there seems to be a bit of a sense of betrayal going around Germany right now. After all, Germany has been as welcoming as one could reasonably expect. So the attacks feel, to many people, like a slap in the face, even though most people understand that only a tiny group out of the 1 million or so who came to Germany last year participated. That there are stories of refugees ripping up their title of residence in front of police ("I'll just get a new one tomorrow!") doesn't make things better.

So, to state that the problem is not the specific group of attackers on NYE but men in general is equivalent with lumping in the male half of those who are genuinely trying to help with the criminals and is not exactly helpful. It's also not much different from regarding all refugees as potential criminals or rapists.
posted by sour cream at 9:58 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've seen the 'organised on social media' suggestion a couple of times too, but no compelling evidence of it yet.
posted by Caractacus at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2016


Dysk, nobody is saying rape culture isn't the problem.

Not directly, no. But a lot of people are saying we should re-educate people from certain cultural backgrounds (and not, you know, maybe fix education systems so they meaningfully tackle rape culture for EVERYONE or close borders to people from certain backgrounds rather than look at how meaningful integration can take place. The situation is a lot more nuanced than "those cultures bad!" yet that is exactly the level of much of the discussion.
posted by Dysk at 10:51 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


The tweet about an Islamophobe calling her a kebab because he couldn't come up with an actual slur was hilarious though.

I know kickingtheground clarified upthread, but it's not just a thing, it's a reference to a video made by soldiers actively committing genocide (link is an explanation, not a link) within recent living memory. So yeah, it's pretty much as threatening a thing as it's possible to say.
posted by ambrosen at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think we should close borders to people of certain backgrounds and I think we should look at how meaningful integration can take place. All my comments, at least, have been directed to the need for meaningful integration and for liberal and sensible strategies for achieving integration (which requires identifying particular challenges to integration which will vary with the cultural background of the particular immigrant community). I've reread the thread and I can't find anyone here arguing for closing the borders. There are comments about the importance of education for all immigrants - Germany already offers such classes, focusing on language skills and legal requirements - but that just sounds to me like a variation on "the state needs to work towards meaningful integration." How do you propose we achieve meaningful integration of adults from very different cultures without some form of educational programme, where needed, coupled with vocational assistance?
posted by Aravis76 at 11:33 AM on January 10, 2016 [9 favorites]


Le Soir is now reporting that there have been over 500 complaints related to NYE in Cologne and that 40% of them relate to sexual assault.
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:45 AM on January 10, 2016


For those who prefer English to French:
Deutsche Welle: Cologne New Year's Eve complaints rise sharply "Police say more than 500 complaints have now been filed in connection with the New Year's Eve attacks, with about 40 percent involving sexual offenses. Germany's justice minister said the violence appeared orchestrated."
posted by amf at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2016


It occurs to me that there are, for instance, Syrian feminists. There are Syrian intellectuals. There are Iranian feminists, there are Iranian intellectuals. Etc etc. A lot of this stuff about gender and culture and integration could probably be addressed productively by asking people from those cultures who have thought about it a lot. And asking an array of them, not just picking one or two who agree with you. Also, focus-grouping some possibilities for integration. And I think it's probably absolutely vital to ask young Muslim men who may have conservative or even jerky ideas about gender how they see coming to Germany, how they see women, how they want to live in the world. Until there's some broad-based understanding of where people are actually coming from, it will all be a lot of speculation about culture and rape and blahblah and it can't help but go wrong.

Maybe if you consulted, like, a lot of Syrian feminists, they would say "yes, it's true, patriarchy is really entrenched, this crime is cultural". But at least then you'd be starting from some lived experience.

Also, it seems like immigrants themselves would be the best ones to consult about how they want to be integrated into society. Maybe some people will say "not only do we not want to integrate, but we actively dislike how women act here and think they should change" and then you can start thinking about what to do with that. But in general, I doubt that's the response that most people will have - it's really not how things have gone here in Minneapolis, where we have a substantial, relatively long-standing Muslim community and a continuing influx of immigrants.
posted by Frowner at 12:50 PM on January 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


You achieve meaningful integration by treating people with respect and as equals before the law. Prosecute those who broke the law. It does not matter where they or their parents were born.
posted by molecicco at 12:51 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for all immigrants but, as an immigrant, I quite like the German approach of making language and other classes readily available to recent immigrants. I absolutely agree that any attempts to achieve integration and manage cultural problems would need to involve close collaborative work with activists and affected people from the community itself. The Southhall Black Sisters here in the UK, who have sometimes partnered with government initiatives and often sharply critiqued what the government is offering, are a great example to my mind. Integration requires governments to properly and intelligently engage with immigrant communities, and different interest groups within those communities, in order to both identify needs or problems and to evaluate the best solutions. I understand from one of the links above that German Green Party is engaging with refugee women about their concerns and I imagine that this is the kind of process that will crystallise as time goes on and the communities have a chance to settle in and get organised.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:54 PM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


If disenfranchisement includes unemployment I call bullshit. The majority of the men exercising the mentality that women are whores and livestock who have harassed me have done so in their place of employment when they should have been paying attention to their work.

I have no sympathy or tolerance for anyone with this mindset.

"The right to be let alone , the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men [ meaning people]."

US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
posted by brujita at 5:26 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Brujita, was that meant for this thread? If so, was it in response to a comment that's been deleted, or am I just missing something about how it relates to the conversation?
posted by Mila at 5:46 PM on January 10, 2016


Somewhere upthread or in one of the linked articles.
posted by brujita at 7:59 PM on January 10, 2016


Swedish Police Accused of Covering Up Sex Crimes at Festival - Swedish police have confirmed that there were widespread sexual assaults at a music festival in Stockholm last summer but denied allegations of a cover-up.
posted by rosswald at 4:48 AM on January 11, 2016


Yes, similar tactics may have been used before but not on such a large scale in several European cities on the same night and primarily targeted at women.

Similar tactics are common, but things like large music festivals and Oktoberfest tend to be a bit more spread out over time than new years eve celebrations in a single time zone.

What's new here is the media storm (*). And it's pretty clear that it's been driven by "alternative new sources" on the extreme right, who's ecstatic right now when they think they've found something where seemingly everyone agrees with them that white christian people are like this, and brown people are like that.

(But I'm ever the optimist, so if this leads to the police getting more training in how to identify and deal with sexual assault in public places, and that the people who set the priorities decide to spend more resources on getting the perpetrators sentenced, the end result might benefit everyone.)

*) when women are the victims, that is, at least british media finds male rape irresistible...
posted by effbot at 4:52 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


As a feminist and someone who is a steadfast proponent of multicultural Europe, I admit that I do feel like I'm in a bind. I'm totally outraged by what happened in Cologne. And I know everything I say can and will be used against my own values by the most despicable far-right, anti-immigration assclowns. The predicament is real.

In recent days I've also noticed a rising voice among the extreme right, accusing feminists of insufficient outrage and thus hypocrisy. They're actually managing to use the Cologne attacks as a cudgel to wield against both feminists and immigrants. A fascist jackpot! At this point, I think I'm just going to sigh.

I, too, am really interested in the views of Muslim and Arab feminists on this issue. My women friends and coworkers from North Africa have sometimes expressed very critical opinions about male priviledge in their cultures, essentially no different from this:
    Commenting on the arrest of an Iraqi and a Palestinian in relation to sexual harassment allegations on New Year's Even in Berlin, Deutsche Welle Arabic journalist Nahla Elhenawy voices the opinion that such incidents are symptomatic of wider problems relating the treatment of women in the Middle East and some Muslim-majority countries. "The ugliness of our region is reaching Germany," she tweets.
AFAIK, it can be a real dilemma among some minority women: how to speak up about the problems within their culture, without playing into the hands of the bigger enemy, i.e. those who are looking for an excuse to disparage your whole culture, identity and/or religion.

There has to be a way to discuss all this and what it means for cultural integration in Europe, while refusing to let the racists hijack the discourse.
posted by sively at 6:07 AM on January 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


"And it's pretty clear that it's been driven by "alternative new sources" on the extreme right... "

ad medium?
posted by huguini at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2016


Swedish Police Accused of Covering Up Sex Crimes at Festival - Swedish police have confirmed that there were widespread sexual assaults at a music festival in Stockholm last summer but denied allegations of a cover-up.

The police chief in charge of the operation at that festival has now admitted that there was a cover-up. He said "This is a sore point, we sometimes don't dare saying it as it is because we think it will play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats."* There is quite a storm about it in Swedish media right now.

*My translation from this article in Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's biggest morning paper. The Sweden Democrats is the immigration-hostile party in the parliament.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 8:11 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]




"Claiming that all cultures are equal makes cannibalism a question of taste"

;-)
posted by yoyo_nyc at 9:07 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hm, I wonder if all cultures aren't equal - as in, having shitty people in them:

The attacks have also proved to be a catalyst for more violence. According to the New York Times, six Pakistani nationals were attacked by about 20 people in Cologne on Sunday. Two were sent to the hospital. In other separate incidents in Cologne, a Syrian man and a group of Africans were also attacked. The Guardian adds that "local newspaper Express reported that the attackers were members of gangs who arranged via Facebook to meet in downtown Cologne to start a 'manhunt' of foreigners."

It looks like Germany needs some aggressive strategies to "integrate" members of the far right. And honestly, I bet there are unreported racist attacks too, because I bet a lot of immigrants don't want to draw the attention of the police.
posted by Frowner at 9:25 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


It looks like Germany needs some aggressive strategies to "integrate" members of the far right.

I don't know if you meant that as a quip, but I actually agree with that.
posted by sively at 10:08 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


(and not, you know, maybe fix education systems so they meaningfully tackle rape culture for EVERYONE

So, how exactly is the education system supposed to tackle rape culture among people who are entering the country and do not intend to enroll in school?
posted by ocschwar at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


and not, you know, maybe fix education systems so they meaningfully tackle rape culture for EVERYONE

This is so utterly naive on so many levels, I can't even.

Let's start with the assumption that the perpetrators - the ones that are the subject of this post - already know what they're doing is wrong, and THEY'RE DOING IT ON PURPOSE, ANYWAY. How the fuck is "education" going to fix that?

I could go on, but frankly it would be a waste of time in this thread.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:44 PM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


I imagine the point, as with all education in civic responsibility, is to prevent people from becoming criminals in the first place. The solution for the people who actually committed these crimes, if they can be found, is obviously through the criminal justice system. The larger discussion is about preventing this kind of thing from recurring.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:58 PM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Let's do a thought experiment and assume that we have a group of people who are in no way interested in what they perceive as being force-fed the ideals of a radically different culture and who are, indeed, actively hostile to the ideals of said culture.

Let's say they are more interested in disrupting this culture and, for political reasons, trying to incite hostility against their own group. What can stop them? A heavy, constant, police presence, with varying degrees of success. At what point will the citizens of the host country say enough is enough, we don't need the fucking headache and the tax drain and demand they be booted out?

That's what's happening and where this is headed.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 2:30 PM on January 11, 2016


Booting them out is fine by me. Some asshole in BC pepper-sprayed a group of refugees this weekend. I would have no problem swapping him for a refugee. Go be your bigoted asshole self out in the desert, buddy.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:36 PM on January 11, 2016


I always thought it was a cultural universal not to harm people.
posted by clavdivs at 2:53 PM on January 11, 2016


I should add, if it's not clear, that it's a small, but not insignificant, group of extremists within the much larger group of newcomers that is doing damage all of them, and on purpose, for political reasons.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 2:55 PM on January 11, 2016


I always thought it was a cultural universal not to harm people.

This is not a cultural universal at all, even within Western culture. Ideals and practice are not the same thing. The evidence is everywhere. Or, put differently, what we say and what we do are often very different.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 2:59 PM on January 11, 2016


Let's do a thought experiment and assume that we have a group of people who are in no way interested in what they perceive as being force-fed the ideals of a radically different culture and who are, indeed, actively hostile to the ideals of said culture.

That seems like an unhelpful binary you're postulating - you seem to be saying that, within the immigrant group, there are wicked unalterable rapists on the one hand and innocents who don't need any help from the state on the other. It seems more sensible to see attitudes to women, poverty, alienation and other factors that tend to lead to crime as existing on a spectrum for many people; the state can do some preventative work to reduce these factors, and reduce the incidence of crime, while still coming down hard on people who actually do commit crimes. Rather than any such thought experiment, I think it would be better for the German state to actually gather some data - talk to the people who are here, figure out attitudes and needs, create programmes in which they can participate, enforce the law consistently and firmly - and take further policy steps on that basis.
posted by Aravis76 at 3:08 PM on January 11, 2016


Here is an excellent article which offers a glimpse into the worldview of Daesh (ISIS) extremists. As you will see, this is not an easy problem to solve.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2016


I haven't seen any evidence linking the Cologne attackers to Daesh.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:31 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also it's true that Daesh are completely crazy, but there is still reasonable work that can be done to prevent people getting to the stage of crazy where they join Daesh in the first place. Is it your argument that a sizeable minority of the refugees - who have risked their lives to disobey the orders of Daesh and leave the supposed Caliphate - are actually already profoundly committed Daesh supporters? Is there any evidence of that?
posted by Aravis76 at 3:34 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not seeing a whole lot of compelling evidence for Daesh involvement.

The far right are screaming about it, but actual evidence seems very tenuous.
posted by Caractacus at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2016


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's article mentions ISIS in her article:

The men betrayed generous Germany as well as other destitute, distressed asylum seekers who have now lost public sympathy. Joy will have spread among Isis recruits, fascists, purists and other enemies of diversity.

posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:45 PM on January 11, 2016


Is it your argument that a sizeable minority of the refugees - who have risked their lives to disobey the orders of Daesh and leave the supposed Caliphate - are actually already profoundly committed Daesh supporters? Is there any evidence of that?

No. Nowhere did I say or imply that. Whether or not Daesh is involved is still up for grabs, but they certainly benefitted from this horrible event whether it was directed by them or was an ad-hoc group of hooligans. There is no doubt there was some level of organization involved. Read the article I linked to above.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:48 PM on January 11, 2016


Saying they are happy about the situation doesn't in any way mean they were involved.
posted by Justinian at 3:49 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I read that quote as saying that Daesh and the neo-fascists got gifted with a fantastic opportunity, not that she claims that there's any evidence that they had a hand in it.
posted by Caractacus at 3:52 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I did read it, and I still don't see any evidence that Daesh was either involved in the event or that the men who committed the crimes were Daesh (as opposed to straightforward criminals with no apocalyptic religious agenda). Her point seems to be precisely that, by tainting all the refugees by association, we will lend credence to Daesh's West v Islam agenda. In my view, the exact way to stop that happening is for the Germans to avoid any sort of hysterical response to this and to focus on integration and education of the people actually in the country. It sounds like you disagree that this approach will do any good, but I can't see why based on the sources you are citing.
posted by Aravis76 at 3:52 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


In my view, the exact way to stop that happening is for the Germans to avoid any sort of hysterical response to this and to focus on integration and education of the people actually in the country. It sounds like you disagree that this approach will do any good, but I can't see why based on the sources you are citing.


The majority of the newcomers are happy to be there are aren't the ones that need to be educated not to assault people. The ones that assaulted already knew what they were doing was wrong, that's WHY they were doing it. As for the hysterical response, was there not a Pegida demonstration just the other day that required water cannons to break up? This is my point - the damage has been done, the right is further mobilized, and Daesh, whether directly responsible or not, is benefitting from the mass assaults. Anything from here on in is just closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 4:06 PM on January 11, 2016


When I say "the Germans" ought to avoid a hysterical response, I don't mean Pegida. I mean the majority of Germans and the current German government.

Ultimately it looks like we disagree about the likely resiliency of German (European?) civil society and institutions in the face of social unrest and the risk of terrorism. I certainly don't think everything will definitely be fine but I don't see reasons to be radically pessimistic about the capacity of a mature liberal democracy, like Germany, to cope. I would say the 1970s terrorism was a more appalling crisis, for example, but Germany survived it. I think there can and should be a policy response to both the rise of the far right and the risk of social problems arising from a failure to properly integrate newly-arrived immigrants, and that a sensible policy approach has a good chance of averting catastrophe.

I have to say I also find the whole "existential crisis! It's all over! The march of history is inevitably leading us to [somewhere bad]!" narrative more likely to fit in with the right-wing's preferred worldview - "society in crisis!!!" is their favourite model for thinking about anything - and that's one reason I think it's better to avoid it.
posted by Aravis76 at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


That story about the Swedish police covering up mass assaults at a festival for purely political reasons is awful. I guess Covering Your Ass is a problem everywhere.
posted by Justinian at 4:39 PM on January 11, 2016


I have to say I also find the whole "existential crisis! It's all over! The march of history is inevitably leading us to [somewhere bad]!" narrative more likely to fit in with the right-wing's preferred worldview - "society in crisis!!!" is their favourite model for thinking about anything - and that's one reason I think it's better to avoid it.

Yes, I understand the whole "the sky is falling!!" mentality - as a Canadian, observing American politics is exhausting, and before someone tells me to get offa their lawn, Canadians hold a stake in what happens to the south of us even if we don't have any power to do anything about it. The rise of the right and fascism - it's not linear, it's cyclical and predictable to an extent as any history student knows. This is ultimately frustrating because you can see it coming and know that there will be a lot of damage. Dear Gawd, I hope DT doesn't become prez, but I won't be surprised about it if he does.

My main beef in this thread is with folks who are pushing the idea that "oh, the lads just need a bit of hand-holding to grok that it's not ok to sexually assault women like a pack of beasts" as if they're idiot children who are just a bit misguided and didn't know exactly what they were doing and that it was wrong. It's condescending and at the same time gives them a free pass for their abhorrent, criminal behavior.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 6:41 PM on January 11, 2016


And I will state again, that if this doesn't fit the definition of terrorism, nothing does. If people would read many of the great links upthread, there was def. some planning that went into these multi-city attacks. Daesh or not, there was a message being sent.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 6:48 PM on January 11, 2016


The RZ and RAF (as Aravis76 mentioned) fit the definition rather more closely, and didn't destroy Germany. Not even close.

The place really has some experience with being destroyed.
posted by ead at 7:23 PM on January 11, 2016


Look, I'm not going to belabor the point any longer after this comment.

I truly hope Germany and the refugees and all of us facing similar issues in our respective countries fare well. I'm just saying that on the night of Dec 31, 2015, there were similar attacks in multiple European cities. The attacks targeted a specific group of people - women - and appeared to be organized and orchestrated to a degree. These are the facts and make of them what you will.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 7:50 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not disagreeing with you over the appearance of coordination nor the set of political actors making hay from it. I'm just saying that one need not and should not frame even terrorist acts as mortal threats to one's civilization. I suspect the German state won't, despite what its local fascist wing wishes.
posted by ead at 9:51 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


folks who are pushing the idea that "oh, the lads just need a bit of hand-holding to grok that it's not ok to sexually assault women like a pack of beasts" as if they're idiot children who are just a bit misguided and didn't know exactly what they were doing and that it was wrong.

Again, I think Dysk was not talking about education for actual criminals but preventative education for everybody (she and I disagreed, I think, on whether adult education specifically focused on immigrants should be a thing but we agreed that education wasn't a futile idea). I don't agree with you that everyone who hasn't committed a crime definitely never will Because They Know It's Wrong and don't need to be told that. I think crime emerges from a lot of factors - mistaken moral ideas being one - and that education is one thread in how the state can work to reduce it. To be honest, I also think that criminal justice penalties for actual criminals should also, ultimately, focus not only on the deterrence of others but also on trying to rehabilitate (IE educate) the person convicted of a crime. So I think our disagreement is about what criminality actually is, where it comes from, and how intractable it necessarily is.

My main point, though, is that we play into the hands of extremists if we see this incident as something other than, or as more existentially threatening than, a new type of criminality, to be dealt with as the state normally deals with new forms of crime. To the extent that it's organised, there's an analogy with organised crime. To the extent that it's culturally grounded, there's an analogy with illegal cultural practices like forced marriage and FGM. Handling all this is within the normal territory of criminal justice systems, supplemented by decent progressive crime prevention policies (including education and other - eg vocational - policies aimed at integrating newcomers into a society and keeping them from drifting into criminal gangs).

The other narrative - the liberal state is in crisis, fascism is once more beginning its predictable rise - seems to me to be both too pessimistic and, if enough people believe it, to have the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pegida and the French National Front and the English Defence League -- these are the people who want to excitedly talk about Barbarians At the Gates of Rome and the self-contradictions of the liberal state destroying it and the enemy within and blah blah all the usual stuff. I think their analysis is pretty stupid, and devoid of historical accuracy, but I'm also wary of any argument that sounds a even a little bit like their analysis - including any kind of historical determinism about the inevitable next stage in world history. Because, well, their political success depends on convincing normal people that their story sounds more credible than the story being told by liberals, who defend well-grounded liberal democratic institutions as essentially able to cope with most things. The more cold water is poured on panic in Europe, the more likely we are to keep these hysterics out of power. And since hysterics in power tend to be wildly authoritarian, or straightforwardly fascist, I think keeping the hyperbole to a minimum is politically important as well as the more rational response to events.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:00 AM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]




From that link:

What actually occurred in Köln is not yet known. Some reports point to a provocation. Various international media outlets, including CNN, have reported that at least one undercover police agent had infiltrated the crowd and later reported she was assaulted.

Really?? We're going to criticise racist tropes by adopting the in-no-way problematic argument that women who allege assault are either lying or "provoked" the assaults? Sometimes I just despair. (Obviously I don't think we should despair, but come the fuck on.)
posted by Aravis76 at 1:20 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


It means police provocation, which happens all the time. However I agree that that part of the article is not helpful.
posted by colie at 1:24 AM on January 12, 2016


How does a single policewoman go about provoking a mass attack of this kind, though?
posted by Aravis76 at 1:27 AM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sorry, by that I mean - I don't think there's a version of the "provocation" narrative that doesn't have some disgustingly sexist underpinnings in this context. The only way for that argument to work, without saying that women somehow can provoke sexual assault by their behaviour, is to say that actually the police carried out the assaults themselves. That sounds crazy. The alternative is that all the women are lying, and there were no assaults, which brings us back to misogynist bullshit.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:29 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Undercover police regularly incite the incidents that make demonstrations 'turn violent', at least in the UK. There is often footage on YouTube of this. Some reports of Cologne spoke of men clearly orchestrating events, others of the uniformed police conspicuously not acting, which could mean an atmosphere was fuelled in which the attacks gathered momentum. It's not as if all the facts are known yet, or the CCTV studied etc.
posted by colie at 1:38 AM on January 12, 2016


I can understand how the police might provoke - reciprocal - physical violence, but what precisely would count as provocation of the kind of sexual assaults that happened here? What would the police have said or done to make it an understandable response for groups of men to corner and sexually assault passing women?
posted by Aravis76 at 1:43 AM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Undercover police regularly incite the incidents that make demonstrations 'turn violent', at least in the UK. Some reports of Cologne spoke of men clearly orchestrating events, others of the uniformed police conspicuously not acting, which could mean an atmosphere was fuelled in which the attacks gathered momentum.

But the police downplayed the extent of the assaults and what had occurred (nor was this a demonstration). It would make no sense to provoke a reaction (and not sure how you 'provoke' people into mass assaults on one gender) and then not advertise it. Unless their intention was to have this all leak out, lose the police chief, etc, etc. Which seems bizarre.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:44 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I also think that this is not just an unhelpful part of the article, it discredits the whole thing - it seems to think the only way to avoid an orgy of racism is to angrily claim that nothing happened. That's like protesting the Iraq war by arguing that 9/11 was an inside job. It's self-defeating to attack other people's foolish responses to real problems by simply denying the existence of a problem in the first place. It's also, in this particular case, profoundly insulting to the women who reported the violence.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:56 AM on January 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Over 400 women, and "[i]t is, of course, possible that there were incidents of hooliganism." And "...no more than allegations, the ferocity of the press response can be explained only in political terms." Yeah. At least they're consistent enough in their misogyny to call it "hysterical."

If you want an op-ed that makes the same arguments without rape apologist garbage, here's one.
posted by thetortoise at 1:57 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


"oh, the lads just need a bit of hand-holding to grok that it's not ok to sexually assault women like a pack of beasts"

Right. Nobody actually suggested anything like that, though. It's easy to refute arguments and dismiss suggestions if you first make them up yourself.
posted by sively at 2:56 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a bit of an OT example of sexual harassment that has informed a lot of my thinking on the subject. I grew up in Finland, and can concur with what jklaiho wrote way upthread about street harassment being generally nonexistent there.

Except! When I first moved to Helsinki, being an uninformed countrygirl, I found a cheap place to live in what turned out to be the first and only street in Finland where street prostitution had suddenly, the year before, become a phenomenon (following opening borders with our ex-Soviet neighbours). In reality, it meant four or five Russian women, freezing cold in short skirts, huddled together in a street corner. They were easy to spot and really should have been no big deal.

But the effect was enormous. Meaning, the effect on men and their behaviour. For some reason, a large number of the very same Finnish men who would have never harrassed me publicly before, were suddenly yelling at me from cars, catcalling, making squicky suggestions while I shuffled through the November slush carrying supermarket plastic bags dressed like Kenny from South Park. The same men who would leave me alone just the next street over! NB it was unambiguous that I and all the other female inhabitants of the street, young and old, who all got harassed, weren't prostitutes. But somehow the proximity of prostitution got interpreted in the minds of these men as "free zone for open misogyny and humiliation of women".

So, the misogyny had been there all along - which sucks - but at least these individuals had previously got the cultural message that it needed to be contained in public (except now in that sorry little street, where the change in circumstances got interpreted as a breakdown of norms guiding interactions between genders).

But I'm thinking: if it can happen in this direction, it must be possible to make it happen in the other, too, no?

I mean, addressing misogyny itself is a valid and god knows how necessary goal, too, both in our own cultures and in the ones new Europeans bring over from their countries of origin. And that's a long project, and one requiring sensitivity and dialogue. In the meanwhile, it's ok to address behaviour, teach norms and laws and enforce them.

BTW, regarding the coordination of this, I am under the impression that mass gropings during festivals and other large public gatherings have become a well known phenomenon in at least Egypt. Maybe I'm ill informed, but it seems to me like this really could have been a spontaneous occurrence in many places at the same time. Which is a big problem in itself! But a different one from a coordinated attack.
posted by sively at 3:52 AM on January 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


Right. Nobody actually suggested anything like that, though. It's easy to refute arguments and dismiss suggestions if you first make them up yourself.

It's called hyperbole and I didn't make up the suggestion that cultural sensitivity training/education will prevent criminally motivated people from committing crime. The implication is that they didn't quite know what they were doing ("more education!!")and is itself staggeringly offensive and infantilizing. Just because similar incidents can be somewhat more tolerated as something that happens in other part of the world, doesn't mean it isn't also condemned as horrible behaviour by most of it's citizens.

Maybe I'm ill informed, but it seems to me like this really could have been a spontaneous occurrence in many places at the same time. Which is a big problem in itself! But a different one from a coordinated attack.

Yes, let's keep turning ourselves into pretzels to deny the obvious in light of the global political events of 2015. It's a bit of a coincidence that these events happened NYE 2015 and not previous years, then, isn't it?

I really wish some people commenting here would R(any)FA pertaining to these issues.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2016


There does seem to be a fair bit of evidence of an endemic problem in many EU cites with street crime gangs operating around the main station though. That pretty closely fit the picture presented by the eye witnesses and victims, and which use physical distraction and swarming as robbery tactics.

Occam's razor doesn't have to work too hard to produce a reading of the events of NYE that doesn't fit the apocalyptic narrative being pushed by the far right.
posted by Caractacus at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


BTW, regarding the coordination of this, I am under the impression that mass gropings during festivals and other large public gatherings have become a well known phenomenon in at least Egypt. Maybe I'm ill informed, but it seems to me like this really could have been a spontaneous occurrence in many places at the same time. Which is a big problem in itself! But a different one from a coordinated attack.

My first thought reading about the assaults in Cologne was that it sounds like what happened in Dhaka during Bengali New Year. I don't know if it's coordinated or spontaneous or what, but there does seem to be a global pattern of this type of attack.
posted by thetortoise at 11:24 AM on January 12, 2016


One that seems to get mentioned a lot by Arab or Muslim sources is the 2006 Eid mob. It seems to get mentioned as the start of mob assaults, which have also happened quite a few times during political demonstrations, as I guess everyone already knows. There's been a lot of feminist activism in Egypt in recent years to combat the problem and other forms of street harassment.

But as I said before, that's Egypt, and the offenders in Cologne seemed to come from other Northern African, Middle Eastern or South European countries, so I don't know if it bears any relation.

It's called hyperbole

As a rhetorical device, it rarely yields positive results.
posted by sively at 11:49 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I didn't make up the suggestion that cultural sensitivity training/education will prevent criminally motivated people from committing crime.

Out of interest, do you think there is anything government can do to prevent people from becoming criminally motivated? I don't mean immigrants in particular, but the population at large. Is there no point focusing on tackling deprivation and alienation as part of a crime-prevention strategy? And, once people do commit crimes, what should we do with them? Lock them up and throw away the key on the basis that prison rehabilitation efforts are inherently pointless?
posted by Aravis76 at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


As a rhetorical device, it rarely yields positive results.

Do you know what else stymies a good, civilized exchange of ideas? Sniping specifically at other commenters and not responding to the meat of their comments.

On preview: Aravis76, of course education is important! I was referring specifically in my comments to the (wrongful) idea that the perps did not know what they were doing was wrong, which I've stated ad nauseam above. To the rest of your comment, of course we should try to tackle the social problems which underpin crime, there is no question of that - and this is what any civilized country tries to do. And no, I don't believe in throwing away the key for any but the most intractable criminals (I live in Canada, not the USA). But here's the thing - now back to the subject of this thread - people have to want to be educated. You can't impose your worldview on another group of people by force. I strongly believe that cultural change has to come from within, not from the outside. People need to come to new ideas of their own free will, and many do. Exposure to these new ideas is important - it's necessary but not sufficient without a person's free will to accept change.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:09 PM on January 12, 2016


But who has actually said that they didn't know what they were doing is wrong? We can certainly reframe the idea of education in terms of exposing newcomers to the country to the ideas that are foundational to its values -the rights of women and others being among these - while obviously allowing that these ideas won't appeal to everyone. If you think that might be a good idea, I don't know who you are arguing against.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:18 PM on January 12, 2016


For me one of the crucial elements for integration (on both sides) of adults to a new culture and society is the labour market piece. It's harder to dehumanise people if you interact with them, or people like them, on a regular basis. (Good quality) work is something that provides empathy and a feeling of belonging as well as money, a means to live well and something to take up the hours and, as such, it is essential to integration.

Of course sometimes an amount of education (e.g. languages, administrative/banking details, cultural etc...) needs to take place before labour market integration is possible. It points to how one element of policy in isolation is rarely enough to solve any problem. Rather it needs a whole of Government, civil society, systemic approach to tackle many aspects at the same time.

Integrating migrants to the labour market has the added benefit of addressing the demographic issues that face many European states at present.

Seconding that hyperbole is not helpful and neither is it a tool to use if your aim is to be taken in good faith.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:41 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I kind of feel like we're going in circles here. I think maybe you're speaking in generalities and I'm referring to the specific incident in the OP. Yes, education and exposure to new ideas is important - you put the info and ideals out there and hope they help people. The point I'm trying, again, to make is that education will not change the behaviour of those who actively reject its ideas or who already know what they are doing is wrong/criminal and do it in spite of this knowledge. I feel like some people are trying to give the perps a pass because "if only they were acculturated and informed, they'd know that this is wrong". It's just as wrong and outrageous in their home culture(s) - whether as legally actionable, I have no knowledge - so in this instance, how would "education" have stopped people who were willfully doing this?

There is no argument from me that education is extremely important and should be an ongoing thing in this whole endeavour. In this specific instance, I don't think it would have prevented the attacks because I don't think the attacks stemmed from ignorance of the culture to begin with.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 2:13 PM on January 12, 2016


Some context to my remark above about 'far right narrative'

Try this experiment if you like. Do a search for something like 'German refugee rape gang cover up conspiracy' or anything along those lines. Use Google's custom date range function to exclude NYE.

What you get is kind of interesting. Basically you get a whole lot of sites that look like Anders Breivik's bookmarks folder, far right and conspiracy nut sites basically, pushing a narrative that went mainstream the day after NYE when the victim and eyewitness accounts surfaced on social media.

The pre-existing far right social media campaign on the twin themes of refugee rape gangs and liberal / cop cover-up conspiracies also has a fairly clear starting point, sometime around early September. It's not just Germany either, you can substitute most Northern European countries with the same result or leave the country out (but then you get Trump going on a bout Mexicans as well)

Not entirely clear how to read this except to say, again with Occam's Razor in hand, that this was a pretty explosive context in which to drop the Cologne NYE witness statements and that given both the far-right and their fellow travellers in the land of tinfoil hats were already wound up around that highly emotive narrative, it's not really a surprise it hit so hard when it went mainstream.
posted by Caractacus at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2016


education will not change the behaviour of those who actively reject its ideas or who already know what they are doing is wrong/criminal and do it in spite of this knowledge.

I'm not sure if you're replying to me here but this is precisely why I bring up labour market integration. Having a means to make money and something to keep one busy all day might actually mitigate the desire/perceived need to behave criminally.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:20 PM on January 12, 2016


No, sorry r_b, it was to the comment above yours (Aravis76).

Absolutely agree with the labour market integration. Most of the newcomers want peace and to get on with their lives, I imagine, and this is a good step in that direction.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 2:23 PM on January 12, 2016


Absolutely agree with the labour market integration. Most of the newcomers want peace and to get on with their lives, I imagine, and this is a good step in that direction.

Great! And this isn't meant as a gotcha, rather a can we all get on the same page like I think we'd like to be, but can't you see how education fits into that puzzle? I've used my shiny EU passport to walk into work in three different countries and, degrees coming out the ears or not, I've need at least some education first to fit in to all of them...
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:42 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


And to echo sively's comment above, I lived in Finland for a while and it is also the country where I experienced by far the least sexual harassment. And you know what, they consistently rank best, or almost best, on PISA education rankings...
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:46 PM on January 12, 2016


Great! And this isn't meant as a gotcha, rather a can we all get on the same page like I think we'd like to be, but can't you see how education fits into that puzzle? I've used my shiny EU passport to walk into work in three different countries and, degrees coming out the ears or not, I've need at least some education first to fit in to all of them...

I'm not trying to be obtuse – I'm not sure where you get the idea that I think education is not part of the 'puzzle' given all that I've said above and I'm feeling like there's possibly some misunderstanding/misinterpretation going on. I'm feeling like we can't really have a good discussion if we're not reading one another's actual words. Can you help me out a bit? Can you just maybe come right out and say what you're trying to say? I'm really failing to understand the disconnect, here.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 6:52 PM on January 12, 2016


The point I'm trying, again, to make is that education will not change the behaviour of those who actively reject its ideas or who already know what they are doing is wrong/criminal and do it in spite of this knowledge.

Hey KA, I don't think you are wrong that these people knew what they were doing was wrong. When I was younger I drunk drove. I knew it was wrong and did it anyway. When I was caught and rightfully punished it was more the education that helped me learn to never do it again than the punishment. It taught me about how I can live my life without allowing myself to be taken in anymore by a culture that downplays how wrong it is, how likely you are to get caught, and the true extent of just how extremely wrong and dangerous it is.

So, that's the context that drove me to post about how important a solution education is to toxic elements of greater culture that encourage criminality. I do think it can help people, even people who know how wrong what they are doing in the abstract even while they do it anyway. That doesn't mean you don't catch the people who committed the crime and punish them appropriately. It means you focus also on rehabilitation, education, and prevention as well. That was my intended meaning, and I think it was what most people talking about it mean. I don't think we are actually all that far apart in our views.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:51 PM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I had a big comment typed out and just lost it. Sigh.

I agree with you and the others, DD, in principle but in practice I think it's going to be a steep hill educating the very people who need it the most (the criminal gangsters and extremists and what might be called opportunistic extremists). They hold a fundamentally different and toxic (again, talking about the attackers) worldview and would likely be actively hostile to any attempts at being coaxed to see things differently. Why? Dearly, deeply held and cherished core beliefs, however twisted, and human nature. If indeed, most of this particular mob are caught by the authorities at all remains to be seen.

To use a domestic example - if we want to talk about a homegrown misogynistic group of people, a subculture, if you will, let's talk about the Hell's Angels. How well have we been able to educate and rehabilitate this lot? Not so well, it turns out, in Canada at least. The best we are able to do is try to catch and incarcerate them. They are responsible for some horrific crimes, treat women like chattel and have mostly been able to run amok for years in various regions of the country. They have blown up businesses, enslaved women in the sex trade, murdered children and on it goes. And here we have a group who doesn't have language barrier challenges and who grew up in their home culture and understand it's laws and mores, in a peaceful, stable, non war-torn part of the world. They just outright choose to to say 'fuck you' to the rest of us. Their worldview is twisted and entrenched, and they're not interested in what any of us have to say about it. I don't even want to think about the tax dollars, per capita, spent on these assholes in the last 20 years.

The vast majority of the newcomers will likely welcome any help and educational resources that are available to them and this is a wonderful thing. I'm sure they just want an opportunity at a better life and some peace, at last, and I hope this for them with all my heart. I wish for a good outcome throughout these next few years. I'm sure they will be challenging and I really hope the Right doesn't gain more of a foothold than they already have.

I freely admit I'm a bit of a cynic but the idealists out there are the light. I hope there's room for all of us. :-)
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:42 AM on January 13, 2016


No doubt there are people beyond rehabilitation. But there has to be a spectrum between people we'll never reach, and people who already get it, don't you think?

I guess I'm still thinking about the Finnish misogynists, who managed to keep their shittyness canned in public (except in a specific location where they thought the norm didn't apply). It feels counterintuitive to hold them up as any kind of example, I know! But if we can reach the "keep it canned" stage with some people (and I'm looking at both homegrown and foreign born people with misogynist ideas here), that would already be a good first step.

What I mean is, there will be people who can be reached because they will (maybe even grudgingly) abide to laws and situational norms once they're made aware of them and the costs of transgression. Or people who never questioned their behaviour, or people who grew up thinking certain behaviour is acceptable in certain situations. There will be opportunist criminals who can still decide that the price to pay is too high. There will also be people who not only change their behaviour but their thinking, too, like Drinky Die described above. There has to be young people who have gone along with others' shittiness and can decide that they actually shouldn't, when they have good reasons not to. People can rearrange their priorities.

I mean, what's the alternative, really? We can't just decide that nothing can be done. I know the extreme right would like us to throw out all refugees and immigrants. That's a morally unacceptable solution, and a stupid one too, because the vast majority of them hasn't committed any crimes. I agree that the offenders need to face legal consequences. I also agree that being able to integrate in the larger society with its values and norms by way of work and social ties is crucial to prevent this form of criminality from taking root.
posted by sively at 2:50 AM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


No doubt there are people beyond rehabilitation. But there has to be a spectrum between people we'll never reach, and people who already get it, don't you think?

Of course, and I hope education, exposure to the new culture and absorbing freedoms within it helps. But the lost causes aside, here's my hope: that the women will thrive. That, more than any other thing, I think, is what will be the force that help stabilize and nourish new roots in a new land, and that the children of these women grow up strong and free and love their country and do great things.

As for the present bad seeds, time will tell. Best case scenario is some can integrate and stop acting out, but the worst of them may need to be 'managed' by the penal system, or outright deported, I guess, assuming they are caught. I think the next few years are going to be a long haul and that there will be incidents and backlash from the right ad nauseam for a while. The reasonable people will need to keep their heads (and booze cupboards stocked up) and continue to be advocates for the newcomers.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:45 AM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Interesting statistic: According to one internal police investigation, 0.5% of all refugees from Syria become criminal suspects within one year after entering Germany. The same number for refugees from the Maghreb (I assume this means Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) is a whopping 40%. (source)
posted by sour cream at 5:54 AM on January 13, 2016


This is not a cultural universal at all, even within Western culture.

-Affection expressed and felt
[citation needed]

Hmmm.
-Law: Rights and obligations, rules of membership.
-Moral sentiment
-Distinguishing right and wrong, good and bad

Ideals and practice are not the same thing.

And that pesky one, 'collective decision making.'
posted by clavdivs at 8:32 AM on January 13, 2016


Michael Totten chimes in.

TLDR: nothing to do with Syrians. Everything to do with North Africa.
posted by ocschwar at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


LONDON — The western German city of Bornheim has banned male asylum seekers older than 18 from using the city's swimming pool. Officials said the decision was made after consecutive cases of sexual assaults at the city-run swimming pool.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:49 PM on January 15, 2016


In New Year’s Melee in Cologne, a Migrant Was One Woman’s Savior:
As the crowd swelled and grew more unruly, Ms. Duncan said, a stranger came up and asked if she needed help. Both of them spoke broken German, so the stranger summoned a friend who spoke English. He was Hesham Ahmad Mohammad, from Aleppo, Syria, who had met up in Cologne for the holiday with six or seven other Syrian refugees scattered around Germany.

The men offered Ms. Duncan money for a taxi to her boyfriend’s parents’ home: “the only address I knew,” she said. They would happily have called her boyfriend, Sebastian Samer, but Ms. Duncan had relied on speed-dial and could not remember the number. “I know there’s a lot of 7s,” she thought, “but that’s not helping me right now.”

She persuaded the men to form a kind of cordon around her so they could move through the crowd. She described her boyfriend to them, and they eventually found him inside the station. She cried. “I was just so relieved,” she recalled later.

Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, a former primary-school teacher, said he had left Aleppo, a scene of tremendous fighting in the Syrian civil war, in 2014 for Turkey, and had arrived in Germany via the Balkans and Austria in September. He said he had left his wife and two sons in a village near the Syrian-Turkish border and was living in a small town near Cologne with two other Syrians, studying German as he awaited asylum.

He said in a telephone interview on Friday that he and his friends had also felt unsafe on New Year’s, and blamed “bad boys” who were “drinking, and I think taking marijuana or something. They lost their minds.” Now, they worry that Germans and other Europeans are drawing conclusions that will make it harder for new arrivals.

“We keep hearing news about refugees all day: ‘They are bad people, they must go back to their home,’ ” Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, 32, said. “When I hear that in the news, I am sad. Because we know that there were bad boys and bad people. But the good people, nobody speak about them.”
posted by catchingsignals at 6:20 AM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


BBC News: Cologne attacks: First suspect held over sex assault claims
A 26-year-old Algerian asylum seeker has become the first suspect to be arrested over alleged sexual offences in Cologne on New Year's Eve. The man, who has not been named, was detained at a refugee shelter in the town of Kerpen over the weekend, prosecutors say. He was being held on suspicion of groping a woman and stealing her phone.

Cologne police are now investigating 21 people over the attacks - almost all for non-sexual offences. Eight are in detention awaiting trial, public prosecutor Ulrich Bremer said. Most are accused of theft.
posted by cjelli at 12:00 PM on January 19, 2016


When women in the Netherlands protested against a right wing political party that argues that women need to be protected from asylum seekers (with the message: you're a fake feminist, we are against racism and for feminism), the men who say it is so important to protect women shouted "daar moet een piemel in" (something like: put a penis in that - literally: there must be a penis in that) to the protesting women. (article in Dutch). The women were arrested for protesting without permission (even though there is of course no such thing as needing permission to protest) and not carrying ID. One women reported that a cop called her a dumb retarded bitch. That he had seen murderers and drug dealers, but none so retarded as them. Somehow, even though after Cologne everyone is seemingly suddenly very concerned with women's rights and very much against sexual harassment, the men who yelled "put a penis in that" were not arrested.

This was not an isolated incident. A few months ago men shouted the exact same penis slogan to a woman who wanted to have a constructive conversation about an applicants center for asylum seekers.
posted by blub at 4:12 PM on January 23, 2016 [5 favorites]








"Ladies Specials"

Welcome to India.
posted by infini at 10:47 AM on January 31, 2016






« Older How does that make you feel?   |   Bet your paycheck? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments