Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

Revenge attacks in Cologne, alleged cover-ups in Sweden

  • Reports of sexual assault by migrants at a festival in Stockholm were allegedly kept in the dark by police (Photo: atranswe)

Gangs attacked groups of foreigners in Cologne on Sunday (10 January), in what looks like revenge for New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, police in Sweden are accused of covering up sexual assaults by mostly migrant youths at a festival.

On Monday (11 January), Cologne police said that the victims were a group of Pakistanis, two Syrians and a group of Africans in four separate incidents. Two were taken to hospital.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A group of around 20 attacked Pakistani people near the Cologne railway station, and, later, a group of five assaulted a Syrian man.

No arrests have been made, according to Reuters.

The attacks came after dozens of complaints of sexual assault during the city's New Year's Eve celebrations, perpetrated, reportedly, mostly by men of north African or Arab origin.

The revenge attackers were members of gangs who arranged on Facebook to meet in downtown Cologne to start a “manhunt” for foreigners, the local Express newspaper says.

Vigilante groups are also being organised on social media in Duesseldorf and Stuttgart to patrol the streets. The groups say they are coordinating with police.

But the police have expressed concern, with a police spokeswoman saying “the monopoly of power clearly lies with the state”.

At an extraordinary meeting on Monday of the internal affairs committee of North Rhine-Westphalia's state parliament, where Cologne lies, the ministry said 516 criminal complaints relating to New Year’s Eve had been registered, 237 of which were of a sexual nature.

A total of 19 suspects have been identified, all foreigners.

Interior minister Ralf Jaeger spoke of “serious failures” by the police, who were significantly outnumbered.

He also criticised them for refusing to communicate that the majority of the perpetrators had a migrant background, blaming this on misguided “political correctness”.

“Those people who make a direct link between immigration and violence are playing into the hands of right-wing extremists,” he said, according to Reuters.

Swedish case

The attacks in Germany came as police in Stockholm launched an investigation into allegations they covered up sexual assaults on women by mostly migrant attackers at a music festival in 2014 and 2015.

In a case from 2015, a group of men reportedly groped girls at the We Are Sthlm event, but police failed to mention the assaults.

The patterns were reportedly the same as in Cologne, with large groups of young men surrounding girls and molesting them.

Police ejected a total of 200 people from the event in August, which was attended by more than 170,000 people.

According to Roger Ticoalu, head of events at the Stockholm city administration, there were 20 reports of assault or harassment at the festival in 2015.

The incident came to light in an internal police memo leaked to Dagens Nyheter newspaper, which has also been accused of trying to cover up the attacks.

Its editor denied the cover-up, saying in a blog post that they got a tip-off but could not confirm it.

Bad PR

Peter Agren, in charge of police operations at the festival, told the paper that the controversy over welcoming refugees and migrants to the country may have contributed to a reluctance to publicise the issue.

“Sometimes we do not really say how things are because we believe it may play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats,” he said, referring to Sweden's far-right anti-immigration party.

Stefan Lofven, Sweden's centre-left prime minister, called the incident "a double betrayal" for the women assaulted.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, warned that politicians should not use the “shocking” attacks on women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve to push their own agendas.

She said violence against women was not brought to Europe by migrants and that there "are good people and bad people, no matter what nationality, what background they have,” she said in Prague.

Cologne attacks put Merkel under pressure

German leader cancels trip to Davos after a weekend which saw far-right protesters clash with police and amid hundreds of criminal complaints over New Year's Eve sex assaults.

Merkel: Sexual assaults raise 'serious questions'

The German chancellor has said "the fundamentals of cultural co-existence" must be discussed, as more cases of assault by alleged migrants are reported in Cologne and other European cities.

Syrians tell Cologne: 'We're against sexism'

Syrians and Germans held a protest on Saturday to show their aversion to sexism, but also to racism. “We experience sexism from men of all nationalities," one woman said.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights