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“Ms. Merkel Invited Me”: Refugee Sex Assaults Reported In Finland, Switzerland, Austria

On Thursday, we got what appears to be confirmation that the “hundreds” of suspects involved in a series of sexual assaults on German women were largely of Arab origin. According to German media, many of the men were asylum seekers who had recently entered the country from the war-torn Mid-East.

The assaults occurred in the city center in Cologne, where eyewitnesses and victims say groups of marauding New Year’s revelers accosted women, in some instances making off with their belongings. Attacks were also reported in Hamburg, and Stuttgart.

Initially, the incidents received little media coverage but soon the word was out and the backlash from the German public was palpable.

Protests were staged in Cologne and opposition lawmakers lambasted Chancellor Angela Merkel for her open-door migrant policy which some say is destined to rip Germany’s social fabric to shreds.

Meanwhile, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker got herself into a bit of hot water by suggesting that German women have a responsibility to deter attacks by staying at “arm’s length” from would-be assailants. She also said Germany “needs to explain to people from other cultures that the jolly and frisky attitude during our Carnival is not a sign of sexual openness.”

Apparently, Germany isn’t the only country that needs to “explain” things to refugees. Reports now suggest that women in Finland and Sweden experienced similar assaults on New Year’s Eve by asylum seekers.

“Finnish police reported Thursday an unusually high level of sexual harassment in Helsinki on New Year’s Eve and said they had been tipped off about plans by groups of asylum seekers to sexually harass women,” AFP reports, adding that “three sexual assaults allegedly took place at Helsinki’s central railway station on New Year’s Eve, where around 1,000 mostly Iraqi asylum seekers had converged.”

“There hasn’t been this kind of harassment on previous New Year’s Eves or other occasions for that matter… This is a completely new phenomenon in Helsinki,” the city’s deputy police chief said. “The suspects were asylum seekers. The three were caught and taken into custody on the spot,” Koskimaki told AFP.

Apparently, the attacks were premeditated. “Ahead of New Year’s Eve, the police caught wind of information that asylum seekers in the capital region possibly had similar plans to what the men gathered in Cologne’s railway station have been reported to have had,” a police statement read.

And it wasn’t just Finland.

“Swiss police said several women were allegedly robbed and sexually assaulted in Zurich on New Year’s Eve, [in a] method ‘a little bit similar’ to that used in a spate of assaults in Germany,” The Herald Sun writes. “And it has now emerged that similar sex attacks were carried out in Austria, but police didn’t publicise the incidents ‘to protect the privacy of the victims’”.

Yes, “to protect the privacy of the victims” – or to protect against the prospect that publicizing the incidents would trigger a bloc-wide backlash against refugees, because while it’s easy to say that the actions of seven individuals on a suicide mission in Paris aren’t representative of the millions of asylum seekers flooding into Europe from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, it’s a bit harder to claim that apparently coordinated sexual assaults by thousands of would-be asylum seekers don’t say something about the extent to which integration may be, in Slovak PM Robert Fico’s words, “impossible.”