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06 January 2016
Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve: A vibrant, enriched, multicultural, diverse, cosmopolitan utopia
Cologne convenes crisis meeting about ‘new dimension’ of organized crime after mass sex attack
BERLIN — The tensions simmering beneath Germany’s willingness to take in one million migrants blew into the open on Tuesday after reports that scores of young German White women in Cologne had been groped and robbed on New Year’s Eve by gangs of men described by the authorities as having “a North African or Arabic” appearance.
Taking advantage of the New Year’s Eve street party, hundreds of young men broke into groups and formed rings around young women, refusing to let them escape, the authorities said. Some groped victims while others stole wallets or cellphones.
Witnesses described the atmosphere around the city’s central train station as aggressive and threatening, with firecrackers being thrown into the crowd. The women who were attacked screamed and tried to fight their way free, a man who had struggled to protect his girlfriend told German public television.
The Cologne police added that they had received 90 complaints from victims, including one who said she had been raped. No arrests have been made.
In Hamburg, the police said 10 women had reported that they were sexually assaulted and robbed in a similar fashion on the same night.
The assaults initially were not highlighted by the police and were largely ignored by the German news media in the days afterward.
The attacks and the livid reaction to them presented a new political challenge for the chancellor, whose decision to take in refugees from conflict-ridden nations opened the doors to waves of migrants last summer and fall. As the number of asylum-seekers has grown and the challenge of assimilating them has become clearer, Ms. Merkel has come under intensifying criticism for failing to anticipate the social and economic costs of her policy.