|2015-16 New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany|
|Part of the European migrant crisis|
Number of women allegedly sexually assaulted:
Cologne: around 650 (22 alleged rapes)
Number of perpetrators: over 2,000
|Date||31 December 2015CET)-1 January 2016 (|
During the 2015/2016 New Year's Eve celebrations, there were mass sexual assaults, 24 alleged rapes and numerous thefts in Germany, mainly in Cologne city center. There were similar incidents at the public celebrations in Hamburg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart,Bielefeld and Frankfurt. For all of Germany, police estimated in a document leaked in 2016 that 1,200 women were sexually assaulted and that at least 2,000 men were involved, often acting in groups.
Many of the incidents involved women being surrounded and assaulted by groups of men on the street. Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers stated that the perpetrators in his city were reportedly men of "Arab or North African appearance" and said that Germany had never experienced such mass sexual assaults before. The attacks sparked an international outcry, a debate about women's rights, criticism over the sustainability of Germany's asylum policy, and violence and sexism against women by immigrants from Arab countries and North Africa. Taking place during the European migrant crisis (see timeline), the attacks also led to a hardening of attitudes against immigration and attacks on immigrants.
Only a small number of the alleged perpetrators have been identified. By 9 April, police in Cologne had identified 153 suspects, 24 of whom were in investigative custody. Almost all of the suspects of the Cologne crimes were non-Germans; two-thirds of them from Morocco or Algeria. 68 suspects were asylum seekers; 18 were residing in Germany illegally, and the legal status of 47 others was unclear. Four suspects were underage, unaccompanied refugees. By July, four perpetrators had been convicted, and it was reported that half of the 120 outstanding suspects had been in Germany for less than a year, most of them from North Africa.
It was speculated that the assaults in Cologne were organized. Police said that some perpetrators used social media to meet for New Year's Eve celebrations, but Ralf Jäger, Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, said there was "so far no evidence that the perpetrators had arranged the assaults before New Year's Eve". Jürgen Mathies, the new Cologne police chief, said many of the perpetrators were from countries where they might be familiar with "this behaviour, where women are hemmed in and then abused by a large number of men at once". According to both Jäger and Mathies, the suspects did not come from pickpocketing or organized crime gangs.
The Cologne assaults were not reported by the national media for days, and The Local says many news outlets started reporting it only after a wave of anger on social media made covering the story unavoidable. This led to claims that the media is forced into line and was attempting to cover up crimes by immigrants. Although Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker condemned the assaults, she was strongly criticized for some of her comments and was accused of blaming the victims. Cologne's police chief, Wolfgang Albers, was transferred to provisional retirement for his handling of the situation. The police response and delayed media reaction met strong criticism from German citizens, with some placing blame on the European migrant crisis. The governments of Slovakia and the Czech Republic called for an emergency EU meeting following the assaults and various other EU governments made statements concerning the attacks.
On 7 June, a Federal Criminal Police Office report confirmed that most of the perpetrators were of North African origin and had arrived in Germany during the European migrant crisis. Investigative results about the perpetrators matched witnesses' statements. Perpetrators benefited from low police presence and weak criminal prosecution. The report also linked the assaults to the purported phenomenon of taharrush jamai (collective harassment) in some Arab countries.
Following the attacks, Germany updated its laws, making it easier to deport immigrants convicted of sex crimes and broadening the definition of sexual assault to include any sexual act that a victim declines through verbal or physical cues. Previously German law required a victim to physically resist their attacker (see rape in Germany).
Polizei NRW K @polizei_nrw_k
German: #polizei #köln #leverkusen Ausgelassene Stimmung - Feiern weitgehend friedlich - Infos unter https://www.presseportal.de/blaulicht/pm/12415/3214905
#police #cologne #leverkusen Exuberant Mood - Celebrations largely peaceful - Info at https://www.presseportal.de/blaulicht/pm/12415/3214905
1 January 2016
There are conflicting accounts about when reports of sexual assaults during the New Year's Night 2015-16 first reached the Cologne police. One high ranking Cologne police officer reported that on 31 December 2015, in the evening around 22:00 p.m., passers-by of the plaza between the Cologne Central Train Station and the Cologne Cathedral informed police officers on the spot about fights, robberies and sexual assaults on women taking place in and around the train station (for details see section 'Circumstances and assaults in detail');The New York Times wrote however that only after midnight did the police hear of the assaults, and the German newspaper Die Welt suggested the same. During the night, also three emergency calls concerning harassment or robbery near the railway station and the cathedral had reached Cologne police headquarters.
In a press release on 1 January at 8:57 a.m. or 11:45 a.m., the Cologne police announced that the night had been "mostly peaceful" ("weitgehend friedlich") - also rendered as: "relaxed" ("entspannt").
Little later, at 13:30 p.m., the large local newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that "In the New Year's Night, two women have been sexually harassed at the Central Train Station". Also the Cologne tabloid Express that day made mention of sexual violence in the New Year's Night. During the rest of 1 January, several more notifications of sexual assaults or robberies reached the Cologne police, as they made public in a new press release on Saturday, 2 January, when the number of criminal notifications had risen to nearly 30, which news was copied that day by national commercial tv channel RTL and prominent national newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
On Monday, 4 January 2016, 14:00 p.m., Cologne's police president Wolfgang Albers at a press conference stated that "a very large number of sexual assaults" had been committed in Cologne's New Year's Night by groups of young men "from appearance largely from the north African or Arab world", all witnesses having uttered this same racial description. The Cologne police force at that moment had received 60 crime reports, 15 or 20 of which were of sexual assaults, in one case in legal terms rape. With that press conference, publicity about the Cologne sexual attacks started to spread in news media around the world. The German public-service TV broadcaster ZDF though did not report on the Cologne developments in its news bulletin Heute Journal on 4 January 19:00 p.m. at all (see section 'Distrust towards government and media after their 'late' reporting'), for the reasons that they could not yet find an eyewitness willing to talk on camera nor confirmation of the ethnicity of the suspects. The 20:00 p.m. news bulletin Tagesschau from the German public-service TV broadcaster ARD however did report on the Cologne events, including the police statement that the offenders, judged by their looks, had come from the Arab or North-African regions.
On 5 January 2016, 90 reports of criminal incidents had been received by the Cologne police concerning last New Year's Eve, 22 or 23 of which were sexual assaults. Attacked that day by a journalist, about his police force's first announcement on 1 January, as that the situation in the New Year's Eve had been sort-of "relaxed" ("entspannt"), police chief Albers now said: that statement "was wrong". By 6 January, 106 reports had been filed about various crimes, three quarters of them suggested a sexual component, on 6 or 7 January they appeared to include two alleged rapes.
By 8 January, 170 women had reported various crimes in Cologne's NYE, including two rapes. By 11 January, the total number of complaints was 553, with sexual offences comprising nearly half of the cases. By 15 January, the total number of complaints was 676; 347 of these included sexual offences. On 21 January, the total number of complaints was 821; 359 of them included sexual offences, three of them rape; while some complaints included more than one victim, 1,049 people were affected in total.
By 30 January 2016, the number of complaints and reports of sexual offences concerning last New Year's Eve in Cologne was 433. By 15 February, the number of complaints over sexual offences had risen to 467. As of 18 March, the Cologne Public Prosecutor reported 1,139 crime complaints filed concerning New Year's Eve, 485 of them were about sexual offences. By 6 April, the total number of reported crimes in Cologne's New Year's Night was 1,529, a total of 1,218 victims were involved, 529 of them were victims of sexual offences. In July 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police) estimated that around 650 women had been sexually assaulted in Cologne in the New Year's Eve. By 25 November 2016, 509 sexual offences had been reported concerning Cologne's last New Year's Eve, among them 22 rapes.
The local newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten on its website on 3 January 2016 reported that in the city centre of Stuttgart in the Silvesternacht (New Year's Eve) two 18-year-old women had been sexually assaulted by a group of around fifteen men of about 30-40 years old, black-haired "southern people" with "Arab" looks.
On 5 January, the same website reported that a handful of further purported victims had reported themselves, not specifying how many of them had purportedly been sexually assaulted. These Stuttgarter incidents were briefly mentioned in international news media as of 5 January in the slipstream of their reporting on the Cologne sexual assaults. By 17 January 2016, the number of complaints of sexual offences in Stuttgart was 17.
During the New Year's Eve 2015-16, only one telephone call concerning sexual harassment, at 3:00 a.m., reached the Hamburger police. On New Year's Day, 14 people have reported to the Hamburger police to have been sexually assaulted in the New Year's Eve, but those earliest reports were then lost in the police records, to be rediscovered around 20 January.
On 5 January 2016, the Hamburger police was aware of 13 women having reported to have been sexually assaulted in the New Year's Night, and that day - possibly incited by the news from Cologne the previous day, as a political scientist suggested - a spokesman of the Hamburger police announced that in Hamburg's pleasure quarter St. Pauli in the New Year's Night (Silvesternacht) women between 18 and 24 years old had been sexually harassed and robbed, "in some cases simultaneously by several men in groups of different sizes with southern or Arab looks", possibly groups "between 20 and 40 persons". That same day these Hamburger incidents were briefly mentioned in international news media, in the slipstream of their extensive reporting on the Cologne sexual assaults. On 6 January, the number of complaints of sexual harassment in Hamburg had increased to 39, not counting the 14 cases reported on 1 January that wouldn't be rediscovered until around 20 January.
The number of complaints about either sexual harassment or robbery in the New Year's Night in Hamburg rose further: 53 complaints on 5 January, 70 complaints on 8 January, 108 complaints on 10 January, 153 complaints on 11 January, 195 complaints on 14 January.
On 14 January, the weekly paper Die Zeit reported over 150 complaints in Hamburg strictly concerning sexual attacks. On 15 January, 205 complaints had been registered in Hamburg, most of them about sexual harassment, involving 306 victims. On 21 January, it were 218 complaints regarding 351 victims, and on 4 February, 236 complaints including two for rape, involving 400 women reportedly being sexually harassed. The Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police) in July 2016 confirmed that in Hamburg over 400 women had been victim of sexual violence in the New Year's Eve.
In the afternoon of 5 January 2016, several women have reported to the police in Frankfurt am Main that they had been sexually assaulted in the New Year's Eve, in one case by a group of ten "North African" men speaking poor English with Arabic accent. This was reported in German news media on 6 January, and briefly reported in international news media as of 7 January 2016 in the slipstream of their reporting on the Cologne sexual assaults.
By 8 January, the Frankfurter police had counted fifteen reported sexual attacks by groups of "Arab" or "North-African" men. By 11 January 2016, the police had counted 22 reported sexual attacks by such groups in the New Year's Eve. In September 2016, answering a question from a newspaper, the Staatsanwaltschaft (state attorney) declared that 60 reports of sexual harassment of women in the NYE in Frankfurt, mostly perpetrated by groups, had been brought before them.
On 5 January 2016, two complaints of sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve in Dortmund, by groups of men addressing the women in broken German or English, have been reported to the police. That news was reported on 6 January in the local newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten.
By 14 January 2016, according to a report of the Minister of Justice in North Rhine-Westphalia, five suspicions of sexual insults in Dortmund in the New Year's Eve had been registered. By 18 January, four sexual offences in Dortmund in the New Year's Eve, involving seven victims, were being investigated. By November 2016, a news source reported thirty complaints concerning New Year's Eve in Dortmund, not specifying how many of them were about sexual offences.
On 6 January 2016, the local Bielefelder newspaper Neue Westfälische and national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that in the New Year's Eve, in the amusement area around the Boulevard of Bielefeld, at least five young women had been sexually assaulted, mostly by groups of not-German-speaking men, whom the local police described as "immigrants" and as "Algerian and Moroccan Antanzdiebe ['charmer-thiefs', 'waltzers']".
The Bielefelder police stated on 6 January that two complaints had been filed by women about physical harassment in the New Year's Eve. On 9 January 2016, Die Welt wrote that "several complaints" had been filed concerning sexual assaults in New Year's Eve in Bielefeld. On 16 January, the police stated that six women had filed complaints of sexual harassment; most of those reports only came after calls in the local news media. By 18 January, the Bielefelder police was investigating five sexual offences in the New Year's Eve. In November 2016, a news source reported twenty offences in Bielefeld concerning last New Year's Eve, not specifying how many of them were sexual offences.
After the breaking of the news of the mass sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve in Cologne, on 4 January 2016, similar reports started to reach the police of Düsseldorf. Between 4 and 6 January, around 20 reports of women having been sexually harassed were recorded; by 8 January, the number had increased to 41.
On 7 January, international news media reported the sexual assaults in Düsseldorf to have been committed by men of north African or Arab appearance. On 14 January, 48 sexual attacks on women in the New Year's Eve in Düsseldorf had been registered.
On 18 January, the police in Düsseldorf counted 69 complaints of sexual offences in the New Year's Eve. By 21 January, the police mentioned 57 cases of sexual harassment, and 13 cases of insults based on sex or gender. By November 2016, 103 complaints over sexual offences in Düsseldorf in the New Year's Eve had been registered by the police or public prosecutor.
An unspecified number of sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 have taken place in unspecified cities in the federal state of Hesse. Possibly, sexual assaults in that New Year's Eve have taken place in Nuremberg, Munich, Berlin and cities in Baden-Württemberg, but the one newspaper mentioning those places did not discriminate between trick robberies (Antanzdiebstahl) and sexual offences.
Downtown Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city dating back to 38 BC, is by tradition a popular venue for locals and visitors to celebrate New Year's Eve (Silvesternacht), watching the fireworks over the river Rhine and the skyline of the city. The area around the medieval Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) with its Christmas market is around New Year's Eve specifically attractive but also notorious for pickpockets and theft. One of the usual gathering locations for revellers is the plaza (Bahnhofsvorplatz) between the central train station and the Cathedral.
The official police account holds, that around 21:00 p.m. on 31 December 2015, some 500 men, aged 15-35, appearing Arab or North African in background, strongly intoxicated with alcohol, had gathered on the plaza between Cologne central train station and the cathedral and were shooting fireworks in the air and at the rest of the crowd, which 'Arab/North African' group had grown to 1000 men by 23:00h. But a high commissioner of the Cologne police, deployed that night at the scene, contended on 7 January in Die Welt that at 21:45h in the night the crowd on the plaza and cathedral steps randomly shooting fireworks and throwing bottles, "mostly men with migration background", counted already "several thousand", and kept growing until 23:00h.
Around 23:30h, because of considerable danger to people and objects or to avoid panic to be caused by the fireworks, the police decided to evacuate the forecourt and steps of the cathedral and the plaza in the direction of the Domprobst-Ketzer-straße. This lasted until 00:15h, and was extra laborious because of the state of intoxication of persons with alcohol, cannabis or other substances; the evacuation was "less than effective", as Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers stated in a press conference on 4 January.
In the press conference on 4 January, police chief Albers stated that this evacuation was undertaken with a force of 213 police officers, which was reiterated on 10 January by police director Temme. But research by Kölner Express in March would show that it had been only 150 policemen: 80 state police (Landesbeamte) and 70 railway station security police (Bahnhofsinnere Bundespolizei). The corrected number of policemen had been transmitted to the Parliamentary Committee of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia on 11 January but the police spokesman could not say why the correction hadn't also been made public in January.
Between 22:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. in the New Year's Night, personal details of 71 people in the crowds near the central railway station have been recorded, 32 offences have been recorded, 11 people have been taken into custody, four others arrested. Nevertheless, the police were not able to master all events and offences, because there were simply too many of them at the same time. Capacity was insufficient to record all crime reports and to take all repetitive offenders into custody.
There are conflicting reports about when the sexual assaults started. One high-ranking Cologne police officer in his written report to his superiors stated that on his arrival on the Cathedral and railway station plaza, around 22:00 p.m., civilians came to the policemen to tell about thefts, fights, and sexual assaults going on; also German magazine Cicero stated that sexual assaults in the area of the train station reportedly took place both before and after the evacuation of the plaza.The New York Times wrote, however, that only after midnight the sexual assaults began. There's no dissension that the sexual assaults reportedly were perpetrated by men emerging from that aforementioned group of 1000 or more mostly 'Arab or North African' men. On 2 January 2016, the police estimated the sexual attackers had worked in groups of 2 to 20 men. Witnesses five days later said, the groups had counted 30 to 40 men. A report from end of February 2016 by the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police) stated, the groups were mostly between 9 and 100 men, encircling lone women, sexually assaulting them (groping, rape, insults), often combined with robbery and theft.
A police officer described on 4 January 2016 what had happened: "Shortly after midnight, the first women came to us. Weeping and shocked they pictured how they'd been massively sexually harrassed. From then on, we were keeping an eye out for women in the crowd." And he said about a 20-year-old woman from Stuttgart: "I got hold of her. She screamed and wept. Her panties had been ripped from her body". Assaulted women reported the following days: "They grabbed our arms... pushed our clothes away, and tried to get between our legs"; "All of the sudden these men around us began groping us ... they touched us everywhere"; "They felt like they were in power and that they could do anything with the women who were out in the street partying"; "We were fondled, I was touched between my legs"; "They were trying to hug us, kiss us, make us walk with them. One man stole my friend's bag. Another tried to get us into his 'private taxi' "; a young woman believed a firecracker was put in the hood of her jacket to distract her: "Then it fell into my jacket and burned everything ... My mobile phone was gone afterwards". An American woman said she was twice sexually assaulted by a group of "Arab" men but then was protected and escorted out of the masses by a group of seven Syrians. The President of the German police union Gewerkschaft der Polizei in North Rhine-Westphalia said on 4 January: "One perpetrator has grabbed a female plainclothes police officer in her trousers". One woman told the press that within the Cologne train station, at 0:30 a.m. in the New Year's Night, foreign-looking men out of massive crowds had sexually assaulted her and her female friends. She had not reported this to the police, because she presumed "that would not bring any good".
The numbers of reported sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve steadily increased as of 1 January 2016 (see section 'Developing publicity over the extent of the assaults'). By 13 January 2016, also several complaints had been filed against the Cologne police for denial of assistance in the New Year's Night. By 17 March 2016, 51 complaints had been filed against either Cologne's chief of police Wolfgang Albers or the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Interior Ralf Jäger.
Hamburg - Sexual harassment by presumed "refugees" which purportedly had troubled Hamburg's nightlife scene since the autumn of 2015 (see section 'Background: previous troubles with 'refugees' or 'immigrants' in Germany') apparently held on until New Year's Eve 2015-16, when groups of young men in Große Freiheit encircled women, groping them between the legs, tearing their tights and underwear. Sexual assaults that night reportedly also took place on Reeperbahn. The police had been present with 200 officers in the area of Große Freiheit and Reeperbahn but had not noticed any sexual assaults; the first and only telephone call to the Hamburger police concerning sexual harassment came at 3:00 a.m. that New Year's Night.
Stuttgart - The earliest reported harassments and attacks on women in Stuttgart's New Year's Eve 2015-16, reported on 3 and 5 January in a local newspaper, had taken place in the city centre near Schlossplatz, Königstraße and Königsbau. Groups of men were reported to have encircled women, groped and touched them indecently, and in some cases robbed them from a handbag or telephone. Many of the early reported victims were not residents of Stuttgart but came from minor cities like Ulm and Konstanz in the hinterland, visiting this Schwaben metropolis for Silvester.
Frankfurt - The first 22 reported sexual attacks in Frankfurt in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 took place on or near footbridge Eiserner Steg ("iron footbridge") in the city centre. In one incident a group of ten "North African" men sexually assaulted three women, in another incident a three men harassed and indecently touched a group of four women and stole a telephone from them. In September 2016, 60 reports of sexual harassment of women in Frankfurt in the NYE, mostly perpetrated by groups, mostly on the Eiserner Steg or the banks of the river Main, had been brought before the Frankfurter Staatsanwaltschaft (state attorney).
Bielefeld - In the New Year's Eve, hundreds of people were partying on the Boulevard of Bielefeld, among them 150 persons with migration background, stated the police. A 23-year-old female student described how she, while heading for the cinema on the Boulevard of Bielefeld in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 with two female friends, suddenly was locked-in by a group of eight to ten men who did not speak any German: "Everywhere there were men, who kissed me, on the forehead, on the cheeks, on the mouth". With her friend's help she escaped, they immediately turned to a police officer in the area, where they saw two weeping girls who told they had been similarly detained by men.
Dortmund - The first two reported sexual harassment incidents in Dortmund in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 took place in the city centre where "several" men had emerged from a much larger crowd of men, approached two women who together were passing by, in one incident closed the women in, in both incidents touched them indecently and either insulted them or made sexual allusions.
Düsseldorf - During the New Year's Eve 2015-16 in Düsseldorf, four incidents were reported to the police in which offences were committed by groups, but those were not obviously sexually motivated. After midnight though, groups of men sexually assaulted women, mostly along the banks of the river Rhine and on the Bolkerstraße in Düsseldorf, mostly in larger crowds or in queues in front of clubs. The offenders cooperated in cornering women, who subsequently were groped in their private parts and breasts, in some cases very brutally. Only as of 4 January 2016, after the news about Cologne was widely published, the reports about such sexual assaults reached the Düsseldorfer police.
By 21 January 2016, most of the then 70 reported sexual assaults in Düsseldorf in the New Year's Eve had been reported to have taken place in three adjacent boroughs in the city centre (District 1): Altstadt, Stadtmitte and Carlstadt.
The massive publicity over the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany, which started with the police press conference in Cologne in the afternoon of 4 January 2016, and which seemed to contradict the first Cologne police statement on 1 January saying the New Year's Eve had been "mostly peaceful" (see section 'Developing publicity over the extent of the assaults'), immediately spawned accusations and dreads on social networking sites followed by Western commercial news media and one German politician, holding that police, government and/or "(news) media" had been trying to ignore or cover up the alleged mass sexual assaults because most of them seemed to have been perpetrated by immigrants or ethnic minorities who might be identified or associated with the recently arrived but politically controversial 1.1 million migrants/refugees in Germany.
Those suspicions throve on the specifically German combination of public anxiety over those more than one million migrants who had recently entered the country, controversy over Angela Merkel's 'open-door policy' towards refugees in 2015, and reminiscences of the racial policies of the German Nazi regime (1933-45), which made every criticism on the presence or the behaviour of ethnic minorities highly delicate.
An example of the mistrust towards the German government after their 'late' reports of the sexual assaults, by the renowned authoress Katja Schneidt and much circulated on Facebook as of the afternoon of 4 January 2016, read: "Highly esteemed Government, I must give you credit for one thing: you've handled it well. Your attempt to swiftly stifle every justifiable criticism on the behaviour of many people who are seeking protection here with the club of "Nazis!" has borne fruit."
Such suspicions against the government would later appear to have been not altogether unjustified. In April 2016, it was discovered that after a first preliminary report of the Cologne police of 2 January 2016, mentioning "rape, sexual assaults and thefts carried out by a large group of foreign nationals" in the New Year's Eve, the North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Ministry telephoned the Cologne police, asking them to tone down the report and remove the word 'rape' from it. News medium Daily Telegraph, publishing this revelation in April 2016, presumed that this governmental cover-up had been motivated by the fact that most of the perpetrators of the assaults had been foreigners.
Agitation towards the German government was picked up, and echoed, by the Polish and Russian governments. On 7 January 2016, Poland's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski contended that presumably the German government had tried to conceal the events.[clarification needed] Mid-January 2016, Russian newspapers made accusations against the German government similar to the suspicions circulating in Western media. The state-run Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta for example contended: at the outset, official Berlin pretended that nothing out of the ordinary had happened; regional and national German media then demonstrated an astonishing solidarity with the politics by refusing to illuminate the extent of raids, plunderings and rapes committed by refugees.
Already before the 2015-16 New Year's Eve, many Germans were sceptical about the German media's reporting about refugees: a survey commissioned by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had shown that in December 2015, 41% of the Germans considered "the media" reports over refugees biased, while 39% of the German adults did not fully reject the libelling reproach of 'Lügenpresse' ("lying press").
The massive publicity over the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany which started with the press conference in Cologne in the afternoon of 4 January 2016 incited new accusations and dreads on social networking sites and news media, as that police, government and/or "news media" had been trying to ignore or cover up the alleged mass sexual assaults because of the apparent role of migrants or refugees in them.
These suspicions against media and government were enhanced by the fact that the German public-service TV broadcaster ZDF did not report on the Cologne sex assaults in its news bulletin Heute Journal on 4 January 2016 at 19:00 p.m., for the reasons that they could not yet find an eyewitness willing to talk on camera nor confirmation of the ethnicity of the suspects. ZDF the next day apologized via Facebook: "The available information was clear enough. We've been negligent in not at least mentioning the events on 4 January in the 19:00 'Heute' bulletin. The editorial staff however decided to postpone their report to the next day when a crisis meeting was planned, to win time for extra interviews. This was clearly a misjudgement."
On that same 5 January, former Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) via Facebook accused "the [German] public media" of operating a "cartel of silence and lockdown of news" and suggested that it was only the pressure from the social networking sites that had forced the public media to report on the assaults. Also news website The Local accused "the national media" of not reporting until the "social media" forced them to do so. On those social networking sites themselves, the idea of 'Lügenpresse' ("lying press") was flaring up. Political scientist Klaus Schroeder at the Free University of Berlin analysed on 6 January 2016 that until New Year's Eve 2015-16, prominent German newspapers and weekly papers had indeed kept negative news about migrants, like their usage of violence, away from their readers: "Apparently, they don't trust the public. They think: if we'd bring this type of news every day, we'd play into the hands of Extreme Right".
Linking up with such discontent about 'the media' in Germany, the Polish Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro on 9 January 2016 also aspersed the German media of concealing information about the Cologne events from the public.[clarification needed] The Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta mid-January contended: at the outset, official Berlin pretended that nothing out of the ordinary had happened; regional and national German media then demonstrated an astonishing solidarity with the politics, by refusing "to illuminate the extent of raids, plunderings and rapes committed by refugees".
The fact that the sexual attackers in the New Year's Eve in Cologne - and as later showed also in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Paderborn and Borken - had allegedly often worked in groups, in sizes from 2 up to 100 men, quickly led to speculations that those attacks had been organized. On 5 January 2016, the German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) declared that these sex crimes were "organized crime" and also the police that day reckoned with the possibility that the attacks had been planned. On 6 January in a ZDF TV broadcast, Minister Maas toned down his earlier assessment: "It all seems to have been agreed upon"; "It would be nice if this was not organized crime, but I'd like to check that, to see if there are people on the background organizing such a thing". Also one news and entertainment website on 8 January unfoundedly called the German New Year's Eve sex assaults "co-ordinated" and "planned".
On 8 January 2016 though, it was discovered by police that one of the suspects had prepared himself for contacting or harassing women, with Arab-German translations written on a piece of paper for phrases like: "beautiful breasts", "I want sex with you" in a coarse idiom, and "I kill you".Ralf Jäger, Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, on 21 January nevertheless dismissed the suggestion of premeditated organized attacks: groups of men had indeed agreed via social networking sites to meet at the Cologne New Year's Eve celebrations but there was no information so far that the perpetrators had agreed upon the assaults before New Year's Eve, nor that the groups of offenders had been structured hierarchically, Jäger said. On 11 February 2016, also the new Cologne police chief Jürgen Mathies rejected the idea of organized crime. Naturally, the gathering of young men at the central train station came about via social networking sites where people would write: "We're going up to Cologne, seems it'll be a great party there", but "there's nothing that hints at organized crime. Rather is it so that such sexual assaults by groups are also a huge problem in for example Cairo. These perpetrators probably knew this behaviour, of locking in and then abusing women with many men together, from their country of descent".Tabloid website Daily Express/express.co.uk nevertheless kept suggesting that "Cologne mass sex attack 'was organised and plotted on social media' says police chief".
Stuttgart - In the first reported case of sexual assault in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 in Stuttgart, reported on 3 January 2016 by a local newspaper, the attackers were described as a group of "southern people" with "Arab" looks.
Cologne - The police president of Cologne, Wolfgang Albers, on 4 January 2016 at a press conference, described the offenders of the sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve in Cologne as young men "from appearance largely from the north African or Arab world". Police president Albers also stated that many of the offenders had been known to the police for some time, therefore were not newly-arrived refugees. On 5 January, Police president Albers estimated the ages of the offenders between 15 and 35 or between 18 and 35.
Hamburg - The Hamburger police in its announcement on 5 January 2016 described the perpetrators of the sexual harassments in the New Year's Eve as "in some cases" men "with southern or Arab looks" operating in groups of perhaps 20 to 40 persons.
The Hamburger Abendblatt stated on 20 January that "most of the victims have supposedly described the perpetrators as south-landers (Südländer), North-Africans or people with dark skin".
Of the first eight identified suspects of sexual offences in Hamburg in the NYE, some were refugees, some others had a migration background, said the police on 14 January 2016.
Frankfurt - The victims of the first 22 reported sexual attacks in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 in Frankfurt have, between 5 and 11 January, described the perpetrators as groups of men from Arab or north-African origin.
Bielefeld - All six women who had been sexually harassed in Bielefeld in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 described their harassers as men with migration background; same men had been described by the police on 6 January as "immigrants", mostly Algerians and Moroccans.
Düsseldorf - On 8 January 2016, all 41 victims in Düsseldorf of sexual attacks in the New Year's Eve had described their assailants as North African or Arab of appearance. By 14 January, in nearly all 48 reported cases, the perpetrators had been described by the witnesses as "Arab", "North African" or "southern".
Further German cities - Several women who reported having been sexually harassed in Paderborn in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 described the perpetrators as "north African" men; two victims in Detmold described the offenders as "foreign" looking men. The federal state of Hesse has described some of the perpetrators of sexual assaults in that New Year's Eve in its cities as men with "north-African/Arab/south-European/east-European" appearance.
All of Germany
In July 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police) stated that approximately half of the 120 identified suspects nationwide of sexual violence in the last New Year's Eve appeared to have come to Germany in 2015 with the great flow of refugees which that year had reached Germany, and most of the suspects came from North Africa. The Bundeskriminalamt further explained that in their terminology, asylum seekers, people granted asylum, and people only on sufferance in the country (because expulsion did not yet succeed), are all referred to as "refugees".
On 4 January 2016, Cologne's police president Wolfgang Albers stated that many of the offenders of the sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve had been known to the police for some time, therefore were not newly-arrived refugees, which he contradicted the next day by saying that the police "has no knowledge yet about the offenders".
On 5 January, the Cologne mayor Henriette Reker in a press conference said that there were no indications of "refugees" being among the perpetrators of the sexual assaults and that presumptions of that sort were "completely intolerable"; she judged it "completely improper (...) to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees" who had arrived in record numbers in Germany in the year 2015. Arnold Plickert, President of the German police union Gewerkschaft der Polizei in North Rhine-Westphalia, however reacted on 7 January that "there were most certainly refugees among the perpetrators".
On 8 January, 31 suspects of various offences during New Year's Eve in Cologne had been identified: 18 of them appeared to be asylum seekers, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The same day, several of the mobile phones stolen in the New Year's Eve were traced by the police within or in the vicinity of refugees' residences.
Around 15 February, the British online newspaper The Independent stated that of the first 73 identified suspects of robbing or sexually harassing women or other offences in the New Year's Eve in Cologne, only three were refugees. Cologne's chief prosecutor Bremer strongly and angrily protested against that view, stating that the great majority of them were either asylum seeker, asylum applicant, or illegal immigrant which he considered all to "fall into the general category of refugees". In June 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police Office) further explained, that in their terminology, asylum seekers, people granted asylum, and people only on sufferance in the country (because expulsion did not yet succeed), are all referred to as "refugees".
Newspapers on 4 and 5 January 2016 immediately pointed out that, although massive sexual harassment was unknown in modern Germany and Europe, these Cologne New Year's Eve events strongly resembled mass sexual assaults on Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, during political mass demonstrations in 2005, 2006 and 2013. The Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police Office) on 10 January asserted that the phenomenon of communal sexual harassment is known in several Arab countries, where it purportedly is called taharrush gamea. Mid-February 2016, also the new Cologne police chief Jürgen Mathies stated: "Such sexual assaults by groups are also a huge problem in for example Cairo. These perpetrators probably knew this behaviour of locking in and then abusing women with many men together, from their country of descent".
An Iranian-American writer and student of Anthropology in mid-January 2016 had put suggestions from Western commentators, as that mass sexual harassment is part of Arab culture, in perspective though, saying that such sexual harassment is no common practice neither in Egypt nor in other parts of the Arab World, where it is as shocking to average people as anywhere else.
On 6 January 2016, during a discussion in Cologne among women, one of them contended that the sexual harassing in the New Year's Eve had not been different from the violence during other big celebrations in the city, and that it had only become a burning topic for the media this time because 'refugees' or 'migrants', who recently were a controversial issue in Germany, seemed the perpetrators this time, and not as usual German-born men. Likewise, two female journalists in a column in Time on 11 January noted that the public discussions since 'Cologne' had quickly focused on migrants and Muslim men not being adjusted to Western culture and had thus become one more fight of men against other men, thereby ignoring the fact that sexual harassment during public festivals in Germany was since years an urgent problem. Likewise on 13 January, 22 German feminists in an open letter pleaded that the anger after the Cologne incidents should not be directed against groups or ethnicities like Muslim, Arab, black, North-African: sexualised violence is omnipresent everyday and not only a problem of 'the others' who are not-white 'non-Germans'.
On 2 January 2016, when nearly 30 complaints about robbery and/or sexual assault in Cologne during New Year's Eve had reached the Cologne police, the police in a press release had presumed that the suspects had used sexual groping as a mere tactic to distract women while at the same time robbing these same women of mobile phones and wallets. Five days later, several Cologne police officers anonymously told the press their contrasting view that most of the sexual perpetrators had been groping or assaulting primarily for their "sexual amusement".
On 11 January 2016, the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister-President Kraft (SPD) and North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Jäger (SPD) criticised the Cologne police for not having requested police reinforcements which they said had been on standby in the New Year's Eve. After parliamentary inquiries from March until November 2016, the SPD fraction in the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament concluded again that "the deployment of the security forces in the Silvesternacht (New Year's Night) in Cologne went wrong, with graving consequences for the women affected".
Also the Dutch news website de Correspondent analysed, that considering the crowded situation near Cologne's central train station in the NYE, the police forces' coordination had been inadequate.
A Cologne-based imam around 20 January 2016 for a Russian television channel has given as possible explanation: women in that New Year's Eve were lightly dressed and wore perfume; young men had taken pills or drugs or had drunk alcohol, were therefore disinhibited, and thus have groped those women.
A report from end of February 2016 by the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police) analyzing hundreds of cases of alleged sexual assault in Cologne, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main and Stuttgart in the New Year's Eve, which was made public in June 2016, mentioned factors that seem to have favoured those sexual assaults (by groups):
The President of the German police union Gewerkschaft der Polizei in North Rhine-Westphalia, Arnold Plickert, said on 4 January 2016 over the sexual attacks in Cologne: "This is a totally new dimension of violence. Such a thing was unknown to us, until now", the strongly alcoholized perpetrators had acted "fully-unleashed-violent". Shock dominated the headlines of the German newspapers of 4 and 5 January.
On 5 January, also Cologne's police chief Albers called the sex attacks "a completely new dimension of crime", but the German Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) that day went even further, declaring these assaults a "completely new dimension of organized criminality" (see also section 'Speculations of the attacks having been premeditated'). A Frankfurter police spokesman reacted on 6 January 2016: "The phenomenon of large groups of men massively sexually harassing women in this manner was unknown to us until now".
A Member of the German Parliament for the party of CDU, Steffen Bilger, wrote on Twitter in the evening of 4 January 2016, reacting on 'Cologne': "It can't go on like this. Urgently needed: reduction of influx".
Ross Douthat, columnist for The New York Times, on 9 January 2016 advised Germany to close its borders for new immigrants for the time being, because:
-- ordinary Germans don't want the generous immigration policies which led to one million immigrants in 2015;
-- immigrants will have difficulties in assimilation;
-- immigrants will commit violence and terrorism, see the recent attacks in Paris (January 2015 and November 2015), see now 'Cologne';
-- immigrants in such high numbers could Islamificate Europe;
-- many among the large numbers of young immigrated men in Europe and Germany in 2015 hold unacceptable views on women.
On 12 January, Hans-Jürgen Papier, former head of the German Federal Constitutional Court, stated: the government should separate its granting of asylum from its migration policies and "secure the borders" of Germany.  On 19 January 2016, also German Minister of Transportation Alexander Dobrindt of the Bavarian CSU party recommended closures of the German borders.
Mr. Von Mengersen, head of the nationalist Pro NRW party in Germany, has reacted on 4 or 5 January 2016, reminiscing the recent large influx of migrants into Germany: "We locals can no longer put up with everything that is being routinely swept under the rug based on a false sense of tolerance". Other far-right and anti-immigrant groups gave that day similar reactions. Also the liberal conservative German magazine Cicero that day in more guarded terms blamed the migrants by suggesting "the government's loss of control" as to who enters Germany had caused these New Year's Eve's sex assaults.
Donald Trump tweeted on 6 January: "Germany is going through massive attacks to its people by the migrants (...)".
The German CSU's secretary-general Andreas Scheuer between 4 and 9 January tweeted: "It is unbearable that in major German cities, women are sexually assaulted and robbed in the street by young migrants"; the CDU had between 4 and 9 January proposed in a draft announcement that allegedly suspicious refugees should be taken into custody.
The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, on 7 January said he would make a concentrated effort to prevent Muslim migrants from entering Slovakia. The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on 8 January supported Fico's proposal. On 8 January, Fico added that "The migrants cannot be integrated".
The Belgian immigration minister on 8 January ordered migrants to follow courses in "respect for women".
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 9 January 2016 promised tougher action and measures against criminals of foreign nationality, and on 11 January she reacted on the sex attacks saying: "Refugees are coming to Europe and we are vulnerable, as we see (...)".
Also on 11 January, at a rally in Leipzig organized by Pegida, banner signs read: "Rapefugees not welcome".
On 12 January 2016, research by online Internet research firm YouGov showed that the percentage of Germans who consider the number of asylum seekers in Germany "too high" had sharply risen from 53% in November 2015 to 62% in the period 8-11 January 2016.
In a press conference in the afternoon of 5 January 2016, Cologne's mayor Henriette Reker (nonpartisan politician) - who herself had been attacked with a knife and gravely wounded 2½ months earlier - after being asked how women could protect themselves from assaults like in the New Year's Eve, answered that women should keep "an arm's length distance" from people with whom they don't have a confidential relation. This caused alarm not only on the social networking sites but even from the government of the Netherlands, all suggesting that Mrs. Reker had blamed the victims with that remark.
In the evening of 5 January 2016, between 200 and 300 mostly women protested outside the Cologne Cathedral, demanding respect for women and action from Chancellor Angela Merkel. On 9 January, a second demonstration or flashmob took place, on the forecourt and steps of the Cologne cathedral, against "violence against women", by at least a thousand men and women.
On 13 January, 22 German feminists in an open letter pleaded that the anger after the Cologne incidents should not be directed against groups or ethnicities like Muslim, Arab, black, North-African: sexualised violence is omnipresent everyday and not only a problem of 'the others' who are not-white 'non-Germans'. A feminist protest against sexism and against anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment--purportedly having surged in the wake of the Cologne New Year's Eve sexual attacks--was held in Cologne on 12 March 2016.
In reaction to the sexual assaults, Hannelore Kraft (SPD), Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, said on 5 January 2016 that perpetrators should be deported if possible.
On 8 January, vice chancellor for the SPD and Minister for Economics Sigmar Gabriel fell into line, saying: "criminal asylum applicants [should be] sent back to their homeland" and also Hamburg's mayor Olaf Scholz (SPD) advocated quicker deportation of criminal migrants, specifically the perpetrators of these assaults in the New Year's Eve. On 9 January, the rivalling German centre party CDU went even further: migrants sentenced to imprisonment on probation should under circumstances be deported as well.
In July 2016, Germany's parliament passed a new law on sex crimes (see subsection 'Updating the law on sexual violence') which should make it easier to deport a migrant after committing a sex offence.
North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD) said on 7 January 2016 that the police has to learn from these events and "conceptually adjust" to the fact that there are apparently groups of men who assault women en masse. In July 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police) President mr. Mönch demanded, as consequence of these NYE assaults, more police presence and more video surveillance.
The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, in reaction on 'Cologne', on 7 January 2016 said he would make a concentrated effort to prevent Muslim migrants from entering Slovakia. The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on 8 January supported Fico's proposal.
On 10 January, journalist Harald Martenstein has written in Der Tagesspiegel: "An Islamic socialization produces a conception of women that not seldomly leads to such crimes".
On 11 January, at a rally in Leipzig organized by Pegida, banner signs read: "Islam not welcome".
In May 2016, the German journalist, publisher and feminist Alice Schwarzer in a book wrote that the assaulters of the Cologne New Year's Eve had been "fanaticized followers of the Sharia-Islam ... they were not average Muslims ... [but] the type of men who place sharia above the law and the woman below the man ... Most of the German Muslim Organizations have been busying themselves in recent decades with infiltrating the sharia into our legal system". President Kaddor of the German Liberal Islamic Society has retorted that Schwarzer is doing "what many Islam-hostile instigators do"; already the usage of the term 'Sharia-Islam' shows that Schwarzer is not interested in clarifying, just in using sharp language, said Kaddor. The charge of trying to infiltrate the legal system with the sharia she dismissed as "nonsense".
On 7 January 2016, Poland's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski contended that the migration wave to Europe, which he linked to the Cologne events, had been used by ISIL or other terrorist organizations.[clarification needed]
On 8 January 2016, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, called for a complete halt to migration into Europe. If borders of the Schengen Zone are not controlled, the Schengen system (i.e. free movement of people within the participating countries) will collapse, he said.
On 15 January, the German Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), also stated that: "We must now secure the Schengen outside borders".
Economic Professor Emeritus Hans-Werner Sinn (1948), ranked by several papers as one of the leading intellectuals of Germany, on 1 February 2016 reacted on "the Cologne New Year's Eve events", stating:
Germany because of its history has a lasting obligation to protect those who are politically persecuted, but not to put up with a massive and uncontrolled rush of economic refugees. If a state, for example Germany, neglects to effectively protect its borders and thus to protect its public assets and its social security system, chaos, violence and inefficiency would damage that state to such a degree that it could not even anymore fulfil its aforesaid humanitary assignments. In the current situation though, with Germany being part of the Schengen Area, it would suffice for Germany if the outer borders of that Schengen Zone were effectively protected, which presently would require most of all protecting the Schengen outer borders of Italy and Slovenia. Italy, Sinn suggested, should bring back the refugees to Africa as - according to Sinn - Spain was already doing; Slovenia should be assisted in securing its outside Schengen border. On those controlled outer Schengen borders, reception camps for arriving asylum applicants could then be erected, and the asylum applicants qualifying there for asylum according to uniform European asylum criteria could be distributed over those Schengen countries willing to accept their share of them.
Quality newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday, 9 January 2016 published an illustration of a black arm reaching up between white female legs, which has been pilloried as racism by other media and journalists; the Süddeutsche has apologized for it the next day.
German magazine Focus on its front cover on 9 January showed a naked, blonde, white woman, stained by black handprints all over her body, accompanied by the text: "After the sex attacks by migrants: Are we still tolerant or already blind?" Columnist Jakob Augstein in Spiegel Online on 11 January 2016 denounced this as an implicit racist message suggesting: 'it's okay for white men to abuse white women, but not for men of the other human racial groupings'.Al Jazeera America condemned that cover image as a "racist machination as archaic as the tale of Shakespeare's Othello". A similar picture was published in early 2016 on the cover of the Polish weekly paper Sieci: a blonde woman, wrapped in the European flag, who was being gripped from several sides by dark, hairy arms. The title of the connected article was: "The islamic rape of Europe".
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on 13 January 2016 published a cartoon, reminiscing the Kurdish-Syrian three-year-old boy Alan Kurdi who, in September 2015, fleeing with his family from the Syrian civil war to Europe or Canada, had drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, whose photo of his dead body being published dramatically by nearly every serious news medium in the Western world had elicited on the one hand awe and commiseration in the Western world, on the other hand irritation as 'dead-child porn for progressives'. Charlie Hebdo pictured Alan Kurdi now as a grown-up man with Arab racial traits lecherously chasing a blonde, running woman. The accompanying text goes: "Migrants. Que sérait devenu le petit Aylan s'il avait grandi? Tripoteur de fesses en Allemagne" ("Migrants. What would little Aylan have grown up to be? Ass groper in Germany").
Two Professors of Constitutional Law and former members of the German Federal Constitutional Court, Udo Di Fabio and Hans-Jürgen Papier, on 14 January 2016 have imputed that the federal government had suspended the constitutional state by unconditionally opening the country's borders in 2015.
Russian television channel REN TV around 20 January 2016 cited the Cologne-based imam Sami Abu-Yusuf as blaming the women for the sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve because they had been walking around perfumed and half naked. The next day, the imam protested in a German news paper: his words had been mistranslated by that tv station, he had only tried to give as possible explanation, without justifying the assaulters, the coincidence of women being lightly dressed and wearing perfume with young men having taken pills or drugs or having drunk alcohol and thus being disinhibited.
Within weeks, it was clear that most suspects of the sexual assaults had come from North Africa. Analyst Michelle Martin for website reuters.com on 28 January 2016 considered that Germany appeared "unprepared for the migration challenge":
"300,000-500,000 young men, without families in Germany, sitting around without much to do, having come from a male dominated culture" in North Africa, as a German criminologist and former justice minister from the SPD party had put it. Also, these men were not legally permitted to work. Virtually none of them was entitled asylum as 'genuine refugee'. 40% of migrants from North Africa in Germany committed a crime within a year, said a North Rhine-Westphalian police report from 8 January 2016. These young men had arrived with high hopes for life in "paradise", but soon found out all they got was a bed and a small stipend, as the vice-president of the German Moroccan society pictured it. So, they easily "get corrupted by a ringleader who says: let's rob the department store or steal a mobile phone or clothes, and we'll have a bit of money when we sell them".
In May 2016, the Dutch news website de Correspondent conjectured in an analysis of the publicity since 4 January 2016, that an incorrect public perception of 'Cologne', as of "a mob of 1,000 refugees going after the women of Germany", had taken hold in the first three days and never went away. As a more correct picture they suggest that only "dozens" of young men were suspected of sexual assaults in Cologne.
Two years later, the editorial staff of magazine Spiegel Online postulated that the events of Cologne's New Year's Eve 2015-16 had ended "the sense of euphoria that had accompanied the welcoming of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany in 2015".
Immediately after the 4 January 2016 reports about Cologne, sales to women of pepper spray for self-defense exploded in Germany. In the first three weeks of January 2016, requests for small weapons licences (Kleiner Waffenschein) in Cologne and Leverkusen have doubled in comparison to the previous year.
In Düsseldorf, where later 103 complaints over sexual offences in the New Year's Eve would be registered, a vigilante group was founded on 5 January 2016 in reaction to the then published events in Cologne. The Facebook page of this Düsseldorf passt auf ("Düsseldorf Watches Out") group garnered 3,300 members within two days.
Cologne's chief of police Wolfgang Albers was soon criticized, also bearing in mind his questionable performance in two affairs in previous years. On 6 January 2016, the FDP's leader Christian Lindner bluntly stated: "Cologne needs a new start for security, also regarding personnel".
On 8 January, even the German Police Trade Union's president Rainer Wendt severely criticized Albers, saying the chief of police together with the police force under his responsibility had caused a communication disaster by first stating the New Year's Eve had passed calmly, later having to admit this first information had been wrong. The same day, Cologne's mayor Reker accused Albers of holding information from her, not informing her that 58% of the first 31 suspects of various offences in the New Year's Eve had indeed appeared to be asylum seekers. Later on 8 January 2016, the North Rhine-Westphalian interior minister Ralf Jaeger gave Wolfgang Albers an early retirement, other sources say it was mayor Reker who pensioned Albers off.
On 10 January 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police) announced a nationwide investigation in Germany on communal sexual harassment, purportedly known as taharrush gamea in Arab countries.
On Sunday, 10 January 2016, six Pakistani were attacked in the city of Cologne by around 20 people, two of the Pakistani briefly needed treatment in a hospital.
Five people that same night attacked one Syrian man in Cologne who also was injured. Also three Guinean men were attacked.
According to the British paper The Daily Telegraph, "a group of thugs" in Cologne was planning a "manhunt" for asylum seekers.
On 11 January 2016, columnist Jakob Augstein in Spiegel Online argued that the German laws concerning sex crimes were lagging behind, because under the current law, unconsentual sex in Germany was only a penal offence in case the unwilling participant had physically, noticeably defended himself or herself: simply saying "No" was not enough to find a defendant guilty. Around 12 January, 22 self-declared German feminists in an open letter pleaded that the German law should make sexual harassment a criminal offence, and the issue was further debated in German society.
In July 2016, partly in reaction to the sex attacks in Cologne in the 2016 New Year's Eve, the Bundestag (German Parliament) with huge majority passed a new law, classifying groping as a sex crime, clarifying that "No means No" even if a victim does not fight back. This new law also makes it easier to deport a migrant after committing a sex offence.
Cologne - Before Carnival, a great yearly national feast in Germany falling in 2016 from 4 until 9 February, the police in Cologne had set ready over 2,500 security forces, which was more than three times the number of the previous year. In the first night of the Carnival, the police presence in Cologne was doubled in comparison to the previous year, this time counting 2,000 police officers.
Between 17 and 23 January 2016, the police in North Rhine-Westphalia pursued five raids, purportedly to search delinquents among immigrants. On Sunday, 17 January, nearly 300 police officers sealed off several streets in the vicinity of Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, to check out some 300 North Africans hanging about. On 19 January, police showed up in refugee shelters in the small town of Ahlen. On 19 and 20 January, police cruised the Kalk district of Cologne where they arrested six people. On 22 January before dawn, dozens of policemen visited refugee shelters in Recklinghausen and woke all residents up. "Repeatedly" during these raids, police encountered either illegal residents or people who had committed crimes, as newpapaper Die Welt asserted.
On 27 January 2016, the Cologne police has given restraining orders to some of the suspects of New Year's Eve, for the area of Cologne's old town, cathedral and central train station, during the Carnival celebrations which would last from 4 until 9 February.
On 30 January 2016, a girls' Gymnasium, the archiepiscopal Ursulinenschule in Cologne, announced that the school would remain closed on the day of Weiberfastnacht (women's fasting night), 4 February: the first night of the street carnival, a first day and night which traditionally comprise the notion of a turnabout of the normal hierarchy between the sexes, having for one day and night the women rule over the town and over the men. A school leader declared to newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger: "We want to spare our female pupils the road to school, on this day"; "For us, the security of the girls comes first". Other schools in Cologne however chose to discuss the New Year's Eve's events in the classrooms, also educating the pupils on alcohol use, date rape drugs, and pepper spray.
As of early January 2016, the Cologne police evaluated 1,100 hours of video footage from surveillance cameras and from telephones of witnesses, but already on 18 January, a policeman anonymously said to the press that several of the video recordings of the Cologne Cathedal plaza in the New Year's Eve were unusable. In November 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia confirmed, that because of those crime scenes in Cologne having been both dark and overcrowded, those video images had mostly proven to be of miserable quality and therefore not very helpful for the investigations.
In Hamburg, the police on 20 January 2016 had published photos of two suspects of sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve, which led to the recognition of one of them, a 29-year-old male migrant from Afghanistan, the next day by a guard in a refugee center, and his arrest.
On 26 January, the Hamburger police published a photo--taken with a surveillance camera--of a 33-year-old Iranian man who was suspected to have groped two young women on New Year's Eve, which led to him being recognized by one victim and his subsequent arrest.
On 4 February, the Hamburger police released photos of two further suspects; also the nationwide TV series Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst ("Case number XY ... unsolved") was used for the tracing of Hamburger perpetrators.
In February 2016, an 18-year-old girl from Mönchengladbach, sexually harassed in Düsseldorf in the New Year's Eve, recognized her harasser on television, which led to his arrest around 14 February.
The Düsseldorfer police since 2014 in the so-called "Casablanca"-project had registered 2,200 suspects from North Africa who supposedly had been active as thief, or even in organized thefts, in Düsseldorf. The Düsseldorfer police said on 6 January 2016, that they were now investigating whether those suspects were involved in the theft and sex crimes in the Cologne New Year's Eve 2015-16.
Cologne - On 15 January 2016, the state attorney of North Rhine-Westphalia set out a total sum of 10,000 euro as reward for informations that would lead to the tracing of perpetrators of the Cologne New Year's Eve sexual assaults, to be shared out under all the informants.
Hamburg - The Hamburger police on 4 February 2016 set out 2,000 euro for rewards for informations that would lead to the tracing of perpetrators of the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Hamburg.
The Hamburger Professor of Law, Reinhard Merkel, stated on 18 January 2016 to a newspaper: "I don't suppose the perpetrators will be sentenced". For a conviction it is mandatory that a victim is fully sure of her identification of the offender, and that her statements on that point are credible enough. But: "In many cases, when asked whether she is 100% sure of it, she will admit honestly, from fear of a false statement and under pressure of the defence, that she is not absolutely sure", mr. Merkel stated.
On 7 January 2016, the police spoke of sixteen suspects of sex mobs in the past New Year's Eve in Cologne, Hamburg or other cities.
In July 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police) assumed that more than 2,000 men had participated in sexual offences in the New Year's Eve in all Germany, but doubted whether more than the 120 identified so far would ever be identified. In November 2016, newspaper Die Welt confirmed that most of the suspects of various offences in the past New Year's Eve in Germany had not been identified.
On 8 January 2016, the German federal police knew the names of 31 suspects of various offences in the New Year's Eve nationwide, most of them for inflicting physical harm or robbery, none of them was suspected of sexual offences.
In June 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police) declared that 70% of the suspects of sexual offences in Germany in the NYE had stayed in Germany for less than a year, but in July 2016 they said that only 50% of the identified suspects had been in Germany since less than a year. Most of the 120 identified suspects by July 2016 of sexual violence in the New Year's Eve in Germany originated in North Africa.
On 8 January 2016, the Federal Ministry of the Interior stated that 31 suspects of various offences during the New Year's Eve in Cologne had been identified by name. They were nine Algerians, eight Moroccans, four Syrians, five Iranians, two Germans, an Iraqi, a Serb, and an American. On 10 January 2016, the Cologne police were investigating 19 named suspects of various offences in Cologne on New Year's Eve: all of them were non-Germans, ten were asylum applicants, nine others presumably illegally in Germany, 14 of them were men from Morocco or Algeria.
On 11 January, the number of identified suspects of various crimes in Cologne in the NYE was reported to be 23. On 20 January, In Cologne the authorities had traced 30 suspects in relation to various offences in the New Year's Eve, all North Africans, 25 of them having originated in Morocco or Algeria. On 28 January, the police knew 35 suspects for crimes in the NYE, among them three suspects for sexual crimes, most suspects came from Morocco, Algeria or Tunesia.
Around 7 February 2016, a young woman identified eight presumed perpetrators of sexual offences in Cologne in the NYE, from police photos. By mid-February, 73 suspects of various criminal offences during Cologne's New Year's Eve had been identified.They were 30 Moroccans, 27 Algerians, 4 Iraqis, 3 Tunisians, 3 Syrians, 3 Germans, and one each from Libya, Iran and Montenegro.
As of 6 April 2016, the Cologne police had traced 153 suspects in relation to various offences in the New Year's Eve, 149 of them foreigners, 103 of them from Morocco or Algeria, 68 were asylum applicants, 18 others presumably illegally in Germany, four of these suspects were unaccompanied underaged refugees. In June 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police) declared that the majority of the men harassing women on the Cathedral Plaza in Cologne in the NYE had been non-Germans. By November 2016, in 140 cases of alleged sexual offences in Cologne in the NYE at least one suspect had been identified.
On 14 January 2016, the Hamburger police had traced eight suspects, either of various offences or of sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve in Hamburg. Some were refugees, some lived for years in the city, some not-refugees had a migration background.
In Düsseldorf, on 20 January 2016, nine suspects of various offences in the New Year's Eve had been identified; eight of them originated abroad. By November 2016, for 41 sexual offences in the New Year's Eve in Düsseldorf the officials had traced one or more suspects.
In Bielefeld, on 20 January 2016, four suspects of various offences in the New Year's Eve had been traced, all from Morocco or Algeria. By November 2016, in 15 out of 20 judicial proceedings for various offences in the New Year's Eve in Bielefeld, the accused had been traced.
During the New Year's Eve 2015-16 itself, between 22:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., near the central railway station, the Cologne police took 11 persons into custody (in Gewahrsam genommen) and arrested (Festnahmen) another four, in relation to various offences. One Cologne policeman stated, he had that night detained eight suspects of various offences, all asylum seekers.
On 8 January 2016, the Cologne police arrested and took into custody two men suspected of various offences in the NYE, but they were set free within two days for lack of specific suspicions. On 10 January, four named suspects were currently under investigative custody for robbery offences in the Cologne's New Year's Eve. On 12 January, five men accused of theft, not sexual offences, in Cologne in the NYE were under custody. On 14 January, still five accused men were under custody in Cologne. On 18 January, the first suspect of sexual offences in the Cologne New Year's Eve was taken into investigative custody, an Algerian young man living in a refugee shelter 30 km away from Cologne.
On 21 January, eight suspects of various offences were under investigative custody in Cologne, on 29 January this number had risen to ten, on 16 February to 15 suspects. On 18 February, after having been recognized on a police photo by a young woman, one presumed perpetrator of sexual offences in Cologne in the NYE was arrested. After publishing photos of five suspects of sexual harassment in the NYE on 8 March 2016, the police of Cologne within one day arrested two of them. By 17 March, the Cologne police held 14 people in investigative custody, two of them for sexual offences in the NYE.
By 6 April 2016, the Cologne police still held 24 suspects of various offences in the NYE in investigative custody. In late April 2016, the Swiss police arrested another suspect of attacks on women in the Cologne New Year's Eve and extradited him to Germany.
In Hamburg, in response to photos being published on 20 January 2016 of two suspects of sexual assaults in the New Year's Eve, the next day one of them, a 29-year-old male migrant from Afghanistan living in a refugee center, was arrested.
On 5 February, in response to his photo from a surveillance camera having been published and subsequently recognized by one of his victims, a 33-year-old man from Iran was arrested in a refugee reception center in Hamburg and taken into investigative custody under suspicion of assaulting two young women in the NYE.
In February 2016, an 18-year-old girl from Mönchengladbach, sexually harassed in Düsseldorf in the New Year's Eve, recognized her harasser on television which led to his arrest around 14 February.
In July 2016, the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police) noted that nationwide, judicial proceedings against 120 suspects of sexual violence in the last New Year's Eve in Germany had been instituted.
On 8 January 2016, the Cologne police was investigating against 19 suspects of various offences in Cologne in the New Year's Eve. On 10 January, the Cologne police was investigating against 19 named suspects of various offences in Cologne in the New Year's Eve, all of them were non-Germans, ten were asylum applicant, nine others presumably illegally in Germany, 14 of them were men from Morocco or Algeria.
On 12 January, the Staatsanwaltschaft (state attorney) was investigating in Cologne against 12 men accused of theft, not sexual offences. On 14 January, investigation ran in Cologne against 13 accused of various offences, on 21 January this number had risen to 30, all were North Africans, on 29 January this number had risen to 44, most of them North Africans. On 16 February 2016, investigation ran in Cologne against 73 suspects of theft, sexual assault or other offences in the New Year's Eve, 60 of them descended from North African countries.
On 17 March, the Staatsanwaltschaft (state attorney) was investigating in Cologne against 120 accused, but at the most two of them were accused of sexual offences. On 25 November 2016, criminal investigations in Cologne had started against 83 suspects of various offences in the New Year's Eve.
Late January 2016, police in Frankfurt was investigating on ten men suspected of pickpocketing (not directly of sexual violence) in the New Year's Eve near footbridge Eiserner Steg in the city centre, they were all either asylum seeker or refugee.
Eventually though, all criminal procedures in Frankfurt concerning sexual violence in the NYE had to be dismissed due to lack of sufficient substantiated suspicion against specific persons, as was declared in September 2016 by a spokesman of the Staatsanwaltschaft (state attorney).
In July 2016, the first two men were convicted in Cologne for sexual assault on the New Year's Eve: a 21-year-old Iraqi and an Algerian of 26, they were given suspended one-year sentences. By 25 November 2016, six accused of various offences in Cologne's New Year's Eve had been sentenced guilty. The highest sentence was 1 year and nine months but it was not yet legally valid since the convict had appealed against his sentence. The proceedings against 52 suspects had been stopped.
By 25 November 2016, in one lawsuit for sexual offences in the NYE in Düsseldorf, an accused was sentenced to 1 year and ten months imprisonment; his appeal against that sentence was still running.
By 25 November 2016, two accused of sexual offences in the New Year's Eve in Dortmund had been convicted. One of them was sentenced to 25 hours of community service for insulting on a sexual basis, the other was fined for 1,000 euros for exhibitionism.
Hamburg - A club bouncer (doorman) on Große Freiheit in Hamburg stated around 12 January 2016, that Hamburg's nightlife and red-light district around the Reeperbahn - nicknamed 'der Kiez' - in the St. Pauli quarter had since 2014 experienced hassles with "refugees": men with dark hair, not speaking any German, dressed unfashionably. Late 2014, some under-aged "refugees" had purportedly robbed clients of prostitutes during their negotiating with prostitutes; those young 'refugees' had then been ruthlessly beat up by der Kiez, said this bouncer.
Since the autumn of 2015, groups of "refugees" had been photographing the women around Große Freiheit and "grabbing girls" around there, said the same club bouncer. A similar utterance about sexual harassment by "refugees" since last autumn was given during a crisis meeting of clubs from the Große Freiheit with police on 13 January 2016.
Bielefeld - After the sexual assaults at young women in Bielefeld in the New Year's Eve 2015-16, the Bielefelder police stated that groups of immigrated Algerian and Moroccan Antanzdiebe ('charmer-thiefs', 'waltzers') who provoke physical proximity to rob their victims had since weeks been active every weekend on the Boulevard of Bielefeld.
The Carnival, in Germany a great yearly national feast, in 2016 fell from Thursday, 4, until Tuesday, 9 February. After the first night, 22 sexual offences including two rapes were reported to the Cologne police, where in the two previous years it had been 10 and 9 reports of sexual offences after the first night. The Cologne police director commented that "the readiness to report [such assaults] clearly has changed". Of one of the rapes in Cologne, a 17-year-old asylum seeker from Nigeria living in a residence for refugees was suspected, and he was arrested.
Also one rape in that first night was reported in Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, which was attributed to a 29-year-old asylum seeker from Nigeria, and four sexual assaults were reported in Bonn. When the Carnival was over, in Cologne a total of 66 complaints of sexual offences had been reported to the police. A female reporter covering the Cologne Carnival for Belgian television was groped live on camera by attackers from indigenous European origin.
On the annual music festival for youths in the ages 13 until 19, 'We Are Sthlm' in the Swedish capital Stockholm, in both years 2014 and 2015 the police received reports of sexual harassment from around 15-20 women or girls often younger than 15 years of age. The police did not publicize those reports, but Sveriges Radio did report about them shortly after the festival of August 2015.
According to one Helsinki police chief, after the arrival of 32,000 asylum seekers in Finland during 2015, many from Iraq, until the following New Year's Eve, 14 sexual attacks on streets or in parks in the capital Helsinki occurred, where previously, according to that Helsinki police chief, such incidents never happened in Finland.
On Helsinki's Senate Square (Finland), where 20,000 people had gathered for New Year's Eve 2015-16 celebrations, women had complained to "security personnel" about asylum seekers groping their breasts and unwelcomely kissing them, so the police reported. Three Iraqi asylum seekers were arrested for sexual assaults on that square. In two more sexual assaults, the suspects were also asylum seekers, said the police, and they were taken into custody on the spot.
At Helsinki's central railway station, where a crowd of 1000 mostly Iraqi refugees had converged in the New Year's Eve, three sexual assaults were reported to the police.
In the Swedish city of Kalmar, 15 young women have reported to the police to have been groped by groups of men in New Year's Eve 2015-16; eleven reports of sexual assault were made there. Groups of men reportedly encircled women on a crowded square and groped them. The first two identified suspects in Kalmar were asylum-seekers.
In Austria, several sex attacks in the New Year's Eve 2015-16 have been alleged in local news media. One alleged victim of a sex attack in Salzburg retailed to an Austrian newspaper: while walking with her friends in the historic centre of Salzburg, they were attacked by a group of 10-15 men. One man grabbed one of the girls, put her head into headlock in his jacket, cuddled her and licked her face. She had to hit and kick the man to free herself.
Dortmund - In one of the sexual harassment incidents in Dortmund in the New Year's Eve 2015-16, witnesses acknowledged the dire situation and intervened, enabling the two harassed women to escape.
Bislang wurden laut Staatsanwaltschaft Köln 1139 Anzeigen gestellt, davon 485 wegen einer Sexualstraftat.
'Unsere' Frauen missbrauchen wir bitte selbst. ['Our' women we abuse ourselves, thank you very much.]