Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Year’s Eve Sexual Assaults Feed Into German Debate Over Migrant Crisis

Witnesses describe perpetrators as Middle Eastern-looking men; justice minister cautions against rushing to link migrants with incidents
German officials sought to reassure the public on Tuesday after scores of women reported being sexually assaulted and robbed by what witnesses described as groups of Middle Eastern-looking men during New Year celebrations, fueling a simmering debate about the impact of refugees who have flooded the country in the past year.
Security officials said it was unclear whether the perpetrators were recently arrived migrants. More than one million refugees arrived in Germany last year, mainly from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.
By Tuesday morning, at least 90 women had reported assaults in Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city, on New Year’s Eve, with a quarter of them filing complaints of sexual assault, according to a spokesman for the municipal police.
Similar but fewer incidents were reported in Hamburg and Stuttgart. No arrests have been made.
“What took place that night has never happened in such a form before,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday. “It’s a new dimension we will have to deal with.”
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