cities&refugees_D12New Year’s Eve 2015 was a night that changed Germany. On that night, near the main train station in Cologne, a spate of sexual assaults were carried out by groups of young men, reportedly mainly of North African and Arab descent. This all took place in the same year that the number of refugees arriving Germany reached its peak (and Cologne itself had already received more than 10,000 refugees). After the assaults, public opinion in Germany began to view young, male refugees with suspicion.

In order to take a closer look at the local impact of the refugee crisis, we launched our ‘Cities & Refugees‘ project – aimed at fostering a Europe-wide dialogue between citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, NGOs, politicians, and European leaders. The emphasis will be on connecting local, everyday life at the city level to decisions made in Brussels and national capitals.

This week we look at Cologne. To prevent a repetition of the New Year’s Eve 2015 assaults, more than 1,700 police officers were deployed in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2016, in addition to employees of private security firms. Sexual assaults were prevented, but it didn’t feel like a normal New Year’s celebration.

The police were employing a new policy, under which any men who looked vaguely “North African” were stopped and searched. Critics accused the police of racial profiling. Was their tough approach justified? And is an aggressive police response the best way to rebuild trust between citizens, refugees, and the police?

Curious to know more about the response to the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).12-E4C--Trust---Cologne

We got a comment from Andrew, who believes that prejudice against refugees is nothing but mass hysteria. He points out that only a handful of the identified perpetrators were actually refugees.

To get a response, we spoke to Elizaveta Khan, Managing Director of Integrationshaus e.V., an organisation committed to greater participation and fairness in society. We wanted to know whether the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults had made the relationship between citizens and refugees more hostile in Cologne. What does she think?

khanI would say that they were also prejudiced against refugees beforehand. Then this happened, and it came out into the open. So, I would say they were not more hostile after the New Year’s Eve incident, but after this they are more open to say all the things that they also thought about refugees before.

We also got a comment from Peter. He criticises the police’s approach in Cologne. We wanted to know from Elizaveta Khan whether the Cologne police got it right on New Year’s Eve 2016, or whether they overreacted. Was there any racial profiling taking place at the main train station?

khanIt was definitely racial profiling and it was horrible for all the people there. Because [they were held] until after 12 o’clock, and then everybody was allowed to go. So, nobody understood why refugees where very dangerous until 12 o’clock, and then one minute after twelve they were all allowed to leave. It was definitely racial profiling.

Can Cologne rebuild trust between residents and refugees after the New Year´s Eve assaults? And if so, how? Would a tougher police response work, or does it just result in racial profiling, creating resentment among refugees and ethnic minorities alike? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Konrad Lembcke
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

79 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar

      What kind of person travels to another mans country says “asylum” which is basically a synonym for saying “please help me” and then he goes and rapes, steals, disrespecting local people etc.
      Such a person is less lilely to be a genuine refugee and much more likely to be some kind of adventurist who knows his chances are alim to none so he does whatever he feels like doing, then you add other men and alcohol to it and you have a recipe for desaster. It was a mistake to let in these people in such large numbers and unvetted. Now Europe will pay a heavy price. Not just in security but even more so in a damaging of our culture. The islamic culture doesnt want women to kive free like how European women are accustomed to living free. In islam a women is not free to fall in love and experiment with sex, they have a virginity cult just as with pork and alcohol. And there is nothing nore dangerous in islamic culture than the honour culture of muslim men. It is not unheard of for muslim men to kill if they feel their honour has been wronged and it doesnt take much for this to happen. Even a kiss could be enough to unleash extreme behaviour. You can read online about men cutting of their wives noses in Afghanistan etc.
      The islamic culture is not compatible with Western free culture. We should behonest enough to admit this and to explain it to the newcomers. We must teach them our Western ways so they dont think they can do things like where they come from. And we must teach muslim women that they have the right to say NO in Europe, something they may not have had where they come from.

  1. avatar
    Jorge Ribeiro

    What this mean?
    People will no longer believe in strange events that never happened?
    Or People should not believe the news/police/government?

  2. avatar
    Paul X

    Of course the police were racial profiling and so what? just exactly what to the liberal left whiners think the police should have done, stand back and wait for more assaults to happen before acting? Blame where blame is deserved, the reason for racial profiling lies firmly on those of “Arab and North African decent” who carried out the disgusting attacks the previous year……ask any woman who was assaulted if she really cares that this led to racial profiling instead of listening to the liberal pc brigade moaning from the safety of their armchairs

  3. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    Of course not, once bitten twice shy springs to mind.

    The other thing that happened after the mass rape of women is people no longer trust the media.

  4. avatar
    Stefania Portici

    Papa Ratzinger ha detto ” prima di affermare il diritto di emigrare va affermato il diritto di rimanere nella propria terra” credo che sia un consiglio saggio . La Germania non deve pensare solo a se stessa come ha fatto fino adesso. Pope Ratzinger said “before asserting the right to emigrate must be affirmed the right to remain in their own land” I think it’s wise counsel. Germany must not think only of herself as it did until now

    • avatar
      Uta van Husen

      Non credo che i tedeschi sarebbero d’accordo con l’affermazione di aver pensato solo al loro paese. Anzi. E in modo crescente

    • avatar
      Stefania Portici

      i tedeschi forse no che hanno accettato sacrifici pensando di farlo per il bene comune perchè cosi gli è stato detto dalla loro politica . Noi tutti sappiamo che non è cosi . A noi la politica tedesca ci ha assassinato è stata miope, ha pensato solo al suo interesse non ascoltando e non facendo il bene di tutti. Non è stata e una buona leader in europa .

    • avatar
      Stefania Portici

      la Germania esportando, esportando, esportando come ha fatto non rispettando neanche i Trattati , ha si abbassato la disoccupazione nel suo Paese ma ha creato disoccupazione e miseria negli altri Paesi e non avendo messo in atto politiche di ridistrubuzione o di investimenti sul lavoro negli altri Paesi …..le persone si dirigono dove possono lavorare eh, vanno in Germania . La politica tedesca ha creato disagio a tutti anche ai suoi cittadini. Il suo mix di esportazione insieme all’abbassamento del costo del lavoro che ha promulgato sempre LEI è stato micidiale

    • avatar
      Stefania Portici

      quel che pensano i tedeschi può essere quello che lei ha detto ma sappiamo che non è cosi

    • avatar
      Paul X

      So only 3 were refugees from Syria and Iraq while 49 were Immigrants from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria….well that just demonstrates the whole problem with the open door policy, you have no control over where your aggressive, sexually repressed youths are coming from..

    • avatar
      Nico DE

      And the Germans that actually commit 95% of the overall sexual assaults in Germany.

  5. avatar
    Liviu Ustinescu


  6. avatar
    Monique Taxhet

    This happened in 2015….why are you stuck in that period ? What about the flourish by German economy ? That is how people are going to rebuild trust. Most already have anyway.

    • avatar
      Cristian G. Dinu

      The illegal/undocumented immigrants did contribute to the “flourish” of the German economy or what?!

    • avatar
      Monique Taxhet

      Cristian G. Dinu, no the majority of immigrants that were checked and given the go a head to stay and work in Germany. You seem to be confused in countries here, illegals are a plague in he US, not in the EU. Most immigrants to the EU are either in accommodation, waiting for their cases to be heard, or sent back because they did not get refugee status, or legally working.

  7. avatar
    Franck Néo Legon

    No, don’t trust them; they are rapers, assassins and thieves. A fair amount of them are criminals fleeing their own countries justice.

    • avatar
      Michael Kane

      Wrong, and you must know that. Bad seeding.

  8. avatar
    Iván Marsh Whateley

    just read an article in a german newspaper that said that violence have incresead in Germany since the refugees and inmigration arrived … BECAUSE VIOLENCE AGAINST REFUGEES AND INMIGRANTS. hehehehhehehehe what did you expected hahahahahahhaha

  9. avatar
    Ben Bijker

    The rapefugees are from north-africa and have no right on asylum.
    But merkel doesn’t think the should be sent back…..

  10. avatar
    Alexandru Ignat

    Many of us have a Muslim friend so this people are the start to rebuild trust.By the way,many will find out that your Muslim friend is going to have a great friendship and trust in you but (an respectful but)they are not able to trust the rest of those around him.One way to establish a greater trust is to introduce him/her to more of your friends(for group interaction like going to a drink,diner,small group talks,going with the bicycle…)and doing so they will understand faster our way of life and how much they don’t have to change about their own way of life and many other things(because in reality there is nothing to change).Make it look natural this interaction and try not to put him/her in the center of attention because when they feel confidence they will look for ways to interact with the others more and more(that doesn’t mean that you have to ignore him/her during this time because your roll is to be like a bridge).So if you have a Muslim friend do with him/her and with your friends meetings which gives you the feeling of fun.Try not to make jokes which only you and your friends can understand because it will make them loose confidence,before you do such type of jokes or conversations with hidden meaning try to bring him/her to a small level of awareness.If you like to start such thing start just with one.Why?Trust me and you will see how easy it is.Much harder for you is going to be to make others to see him/her the same way you see him/her.So those who don’t have or like to have a Muslim friend don’t be and keep your racism inside yourself and those who want to help them to be able to do it because only they can give a change and I believe in short time every body can enjoy the result.Of course when you,the racist one,will start to enjoy the result you will also realize that the others have more fun. Except you who would like Trump method.If you want to change the world you have to put down the walls and not to rise them up.In my city many of my neighbors are Muslims and I am friend with all of them and they are good friends with me.So if I can then you also can,is a matter of will. There are many things to say in this topic but I believe if you want to become friend with a Muslim you just have to start with what I said and the rest it will come from itself.One thing you need to keep in mind:Be at the same level with him/her,here I am trying to say that if you are a scientist don’t be a scientist with him/her because nothing is going to be achieved.Pride is build after friendship …If only people would know how much fun they can have together.I tried also the west stile and is a complete fail.The biggest benefit that comes out of this?There will be no more radicalism in your community.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I suggest you re-write that from the correct perspective. It is down to your “Muslim Friend” to make the effort to integrate, make friends and earn the trust of those in the country they have chosen to move to

    • avatar
      Mihaela Dan

      ba nu daca ar avea puterea i-ar elimina pe musulmani apoi pe noi…in germania ii primeste pe musulmani ii integreaza dar pe noi ne tin la usa,,ti-e frica sa spui ca esti roman,,

  11. avatar
    Carmelita Caruana

    Yes, with goodwill everything is possible. Europe has forgiven many times, Europeans have healed deeper wounds before now, many times.

  12. avatar
    Andrei Belcic

    Authorities hand out leaflets with ‘How to pick a girl’ at festivals and carnivals. So problem solved. Now rapefugees are more classy.

  13. avatar
    Gallean NightBringer

    Ca romanca mi se pare amuzant…adica sa fim seriosi, o Europa intreaga te considera cioara(ca pe toti romanii de altfel si te minti singura daca tu crezi ca la modul general te simpatizeaza restul europenilor), te pomeni ca acum te crezi nepoata lui Hitler? Tu continua sa te dai bine pe langa ,,europeni” in timp ce ei te vor la fel de moarta ca pe arabi sau alte natii. Invatati sa ganditi strategic si nu mai pupati in cur alte natii doar pentru bani. Daca ar avea puterea sa-i ,,rezolve” pe musulmani, urmatorii ar fii romanii. La fel fac si polonezii, se cred neo-nazisti dar uita ca si ei sunt o ,,problema” alaturi de romani in Europa(ca sa nu mai spun contextul istoric in care polonezii erau exterminati de nazisti in lagare de concentrare).

    • avatar
      Jan Verloop

      I agree Stathis Stathopoulos!

  14. avatar
    Ernst Holzmann

    What a question? Nobody in Germany has lost trust in human rights, humanity and solidarity with people need it. But everybody in Germany differentiate between criminal subjects (wherever they come from, even from Germany) and people living in harmony and peace…

    • avatar
      Aeroth Robert

      tell that to the victims of terrorism and sexual attacks. it’s easy to preach political corectness when you don’t live with it’s consequences

    • avatar
      Ernst Holzmann

      Aeroth Robert Have you told it to thousands and thousands victims of American people being killed and attacked (not only sexual) by American people in your country?

  15. avatar
    Antonios Forlidas

    The funny thing is that the most nasty and dirty comments about the refugees are coming from the ex soviet countries who all these years were escaping to the West and now they became democrats and build fences.

    28/08/2017 Boldizsar Nagy, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Central European University in Hungary, has responded to this comment.

    17/01/2018 Zoltn Kovcs, Hungarian Government Spokesman in the Cabinet Office of Prime Minister Viktor Orbn, has responded to this comment.

    17/01/2018 Marta Pardavi, Co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, has responded to this comment.

    • avatar
      Gianfranco Gattini

      off course they had more experience with the arab culture since the Soviets send many eastgermans to Egypt or Algeria so the know perfectly how far and differnt they are from our culture we respect women they not at all !

  16. avatar
    Gianfranco Gattini

    looking the picture of the so called Elisabeta Kahn “manager” the picture seems that she urgently needs psicotherapeutichal treatment ..she is ignoring deliberately the real truth she wants describe the police according her fantasy far away from the real facts..she ignores deliberately that for 1 billion muslims a german girl who goes out alone is a “bitch looking for speedy sexual intercourse with the next boy she meets on the street..” !!! I hope that miss Kahn will go as soon as possible to saudi Arabia and look personally how far she is from the real truth..bon voyage !

  17. avatar
    Pavel Lampa

    Can Germany rebuild trust after their stupid behaviour towards imigration and refugee issue? Not in CEE countries.

  18. avatar
    Mario Mamo

    How can it ever be ? The rabid animals are still raping and killing and they will keep doing it because Merkel gives them her blessing to do it.

  19. avatar
    Mimi Voiculescu

    The problem is that Germany has been invaded and now they suffer the consequences. And is going to get worse.Until 25 years ago emigrants coming to Germany wanted to work and integrate in the society . Is not the case now. These people do not like to work and in their culture women are treated as second class beings. Among them terrorists hide in plain vue ! In the whole Europe life is not going to be as it was before .

  20. avatar
    catherine benning

    Don’t let these government officials fool you. They knew all along this rape of white women was part of the Arab Islamic culture for hundreds of years. and still they imported it in their hundreds of thousands.

    Thereofre, if you follow the ideology of their thinking you have to assume they knew and by accepting this trait of migrant culture, decided they were worth taking in regardless of the damage they would be likely to carry out. In other words it was betrayal of their own women. Not exclusive to Germany or Sweden but by all the EU leaders.

    This is open war by alien cultures on the host nations of Europe. And the odd outcome of this is, the leaders we have appear to despise those rising up to stop this attack on our way of life. The open degradation and political demise of Trump. Farage, Le Pen, Wilders, Does anyone wonder why that is? What is it Globalisation is pushing on us?

    And here is the rub ladies. Feminists don’t give a damn. You see it isn’t PC to dare speak out for our girls.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ Elisabeth Diehl

      As your post is somewhat opaque, I am not sure in which direction you were going in that sentence. However, I am going to assume you are against setting the immigration fiasco on a more stable course. Which your sentence refuses to establish.

      Living in the past, by returning to a 2,000 year old stance of regressive history of whippings, lashings, stoning and general ill treatment and rape of women, is far from moving forward, is it? From my point of view, what you have written is a horrific indication that women are more willing then ever to accept abuse from masculine driven policy than they have been for a hundred years. In fact it suggests women collude in their own hatred of the female by accepting such a concept.

  21. avatar
    Carmelita Caruana

    We know how to heal and move on, we know how to get on with each other, we have long memories and long experience we keep learning from. We may slip up, but we then move forward again. No going back to the dark uncivilised times.

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