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Old 01-09-2016, 09:16 AM   #46
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Although there have been reports of smaller scale incidents in Stuttgart and Hamburg, there's no evidence of these being coordinated and neither is there evidence they were committed by refugees. By saying the perpetrators 'looked Arab or North African' doesn't mean they were refugees, many German citizens are North African/Arab. It's a scheme that's been used for a while, gangs of petty thieves approach women and verbally harass them to divert their attention and steal small belongings such as phones, wallets etc. It has to be rightfully treated as a crime, however it can't be used as a tool to debate cultural attitudes towards women as some have been doing. Such a shame.
Except that stolen cellphones have been traced to a refugee camp near Cologne.. That was reported in the paper today. And others were indicated by fellow refugees. There were two moroccan men arrested as well that carried an IS flag and had notes in both Arabic and German about big boobies, I want to have sex with you and how to say a death threat...
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:13 PM   #47
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Upwards of 800,000 migrants in one year to Germany. Most from world hotspots. What could possibly go wrong?
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Old 01-14-2016, 10:45 AM   #48
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Yes, what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, that it brings out our arrogance and cultural chauvinism. Every third woman in the EU experienced sexual harrassment/violence at least once in her life? Who cares, now we have the Muslims to worry about. Statistically, refugees/immigrants are as criminal (no less, but also no more) as the local population? Sure, but if they do it it's much worse. We are allowed to be criminal, they are culturally predisposed to do so. Europeans, Americans etc. going to Thailand to have sex with whomever they please? But our culture respects women (unless they speak up, or demand equal pay. No sorry, two thirds is all you get).

I have not seen a single report mentioning an alleged IS flag. On the other hand, every idiot can get the template and print all kinds of IS material. They have a damn good marketing strategy. Getting wasted doesn't speak for the best of IS mentality though. Nor doesn't stealing and harrassing women. May wanna reread the Quran.

It's not entirely clear how the phones ended up with the refugees. Does it mean they didn't steal them? No, see above. What I also wouldn't rule out: Both Assad as well as ISIS are not too pleased about refugees coming to Europe to take shelter and being welcomed by the local populace. Since the beginning of the uprising in 2011 Syrian intelligence has been going after members of the opposition in Europe. And they certainly rather have those who seek refuge being treated like shit than feeling to comfortable about having made it out of Syria. ISIS, on the other hand, is quite pissed whenever the infidels of the West are good to Muslims. It just doesn't fit with the narrative that they build upon, that the Sunnis of the world, the only true believers in monotheism, are the oppressed ones who have to stand up against each and everyone else.

The note that was found indeed contained such phrases, the alleged death threat however was a botched translation of an Arabic phrase which means something like "I'll give it to you real good."

Of this group of somewhere between 400 and 1000 persons, an undisclosed number of men of mixed background have, for the purpose of stealing, due to drunkenness or simply because they are assholes, harrassed women. Many other men of an equally diverse background have actively shielded persons, predominantly women who seemed vulnerable, as there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on in this mass of people.

So what can we take from here? Some men are assholes. Deflection is still a pretty good tactic to steal from people. Our societal reflexes are as archaic as how we perceice "their" culture. An honest discussion about attitudes towards women? No, we know enough about this ArabNorthAfrica and those people (all Muslims, of course). We don't need to discuss Gamer Gate, Trump, sexual violence in the industrialised world, remarks on social media or in the comments section of news when a woman dares say something... We now have refugees and who better to blame for everything wrong than those who cannot defend themselves? Nevermind the facts. We don't blame individuals for their crimes, we lump them all together. All crimes committed by foreigners can now be attributed to refugees.

If a number of refugees were actively involved in the crimes: Congratulations, you are an idiot. Not only does it mean that your chances of residence or asylum status have just gone out the window, you also did all other refugees and foreigners a great disservice.

Last year more than one refugee shelter a day was burnt down. On January 3 or 4 a person fired seven bullets at a refugee shelter, lightly injuring one person. Around the same time a family of refugees was attacked. The elderly father, who needed a rollator to walk, was beaten up. Yesterday another refugee was admitted to hospital with severe injuries. And those are just a few cases.

Women who speak out in favour of refugees or immigrants in general not seldom get reactions such as "I hope they rape you" and the like, death threats are a daily occurrence, yesterday there was a bomb threat against the offices of the central council of Muslims, last fall I had to leave my work due to a bomb threat and so on.

No doubt, the position of women in most Arabic societies is far from ideal, often grim. The Arab Spring did not bring about as much change for women as was hoped for. But it doesn't take away from the fact, our Western reaction to these realities is informed by a lot of prejudice, ignorance and a general sense of superiority, which allows us to judge the crime by one from a culture different to ours as far worse than the same kind of crime by one who shares the same heritage.

It's a shame these crimes happened, and it's equally a shame that a large number of people who any other day harrass, threaten or assault women have now discovered their feminist side. Not because they woke up to the reality that many women live in, but because it was done by people who they didn't like even before.

To end on a positive note: I still see and experience more people supporting others who come here for help than those raging against them.
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Old 01-14-2016, 12:13 PM   #49
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Reactionary right wingers and their cultural supremacy idiocy aside, I think it was a terrible idea of Merkel to basically invite a million people over with NO plan on how to get there and seemingly little plan of what to do with them once they are there. It's unbelievably irresponsible, it strained the resources of poor transit nations and brought up old fights (specifically in the Balkans). Furthermore, the screening was poor to non-existent all at the expense of the neediest refugees who had neither the wherewithal nor the funds to traipse around Europe like many young male migrants. The proper screening and transports should have been based in the many refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria to ensure that triage is followed. If you truly care about refugees, that should have been advocated and also an orderly pattern of bringing them out west such that each of them is able to receive the attention and resources to integrate and thrive. It isn't as if this isn't being done by other nations - Germany screwed the pooch on this one and no, you don't need to be a skinhead to realize how problematic their approach has been.
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Old 01-14-2016, 12:16 PM   #50
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No doubt, the position of women in most Arabic societies is far from ideal, often grim.
Actually it is almost universally APPALLING. We (the west) have completely failed women in these nations, because we'd rather get cheap oil. It is shocking what goes on in the 21st century. As a woman, I'm ashamed.
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Old 01-14-2016, 06:05 PM   #51
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What is wrong with Slovenia?

Please do not assume the response of the country represents the feelings of all its people. Many in Slovenia disagree with the fence and the refusal of the refugees.


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Old 01-15-2016, 04:20 AM   #52
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Reactionary right wingers and their cultural supremacy idiocy aside, I think it was a terrible idea of Merkel to basically invite a million people over with NO plan on how to get there and seemingly little plan of what to do with them once they are there. It's unbelievably irresponsible, it strained the resources of poor transit nations and brought up old fights (specifically in the Balkans). Furthermore, the screening was poor to non-existent all at the expense of the neediest refugees who had neither the wherewithal nor the funds to traipse around Europe like many young male migrants. The proper screening and transports should have been based in the many refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria to ensure that triage is followed. If you truly care about refugees, that should have been advocated and also an orderly pattern of bringing them out west such that each of them is able to receive the attention and resources to integrate and thrive. It isn't as if this isn't being done by other nations - Germany screwed the pooch on this one and no, you don't need to be a skinhead to realize how problematic their approach has been.
I’ve never been one to support Merkel, and never jumped the bandwagon as I didn’t see a general shift in policies, neither in Germany nor in the EU, towards refugees.
A directive at the Federal Office for Refugees and Migrants stated that persons from Syria be exempt from the provisions under the Dublin Agreements (the one bringing Greece, Italy and other states down to its knees) and their cases don’t need to be evaluated on an individual basis for the time being. Some guy in the social media department thought “Oh cool!” and tweeted away. This of course was greeted quite positively. Maybe the calculation, if there was any, was that other countries might follow suit.
Sweden said everyone who makes it there would be granted asylum and a residence permit in 2012. It was easy for them to state, as it’s significantly more difficult to get there than to central Europe. So when Germany did something similar (it’s not the same, Germany never promised they would be able to stay any longer than necessary), the result was quite different.
What has been hardly reported and for some reason the connection wasn’t made, was that at the same time when Merkel said “Welcome!” she also sent word to Italy and Hungary to enforce border controls as strictly as Schengen allows.
These contradictory steps aided a situation which of course became very chaotic quickly.
For the most part, the processing of refugees in Germany went rather well. Getting to Germany: not so well. But that also has a lot to do with general attitudes towards refugees in many Eastern European states, not least the Orbàn government in Hungary.
The place in Germany which soon made international headlines, the LaGeSo, is right outside my office window. The reasons are multitude and didn’t start in summer 2015, but have been building over many years (one of our projects for migrants almost went bankrupt because the LaGeSo needed well over a year to process invoices. You can imagine the backlog, and adding to that more people coming each day than could possibly processed). Since December or January people were forced to wait outside because too many came each day. The organisation was terrible and the departments greatly understaffed. Up until summer, nothing whatsoever was done, and then suddenly everyone reacted totally surprised. It’s a long story…
The Dublin system, under which asylum seekers had to stay in the first EU country of entry until their claims were processed, was doomed to fail. The situation was unacceptable for years, and last year became the breaking point.
If you look at the conditions under which refugees and other migrants had to live in these two countries, and the outrageous amounts of human rights abuses, you won’t be surprised that they all attempted to get to Germany once they learnt that they won’t be sent back. Many of our patients (I’m working at a treatment center for survivors of torture) who came through Greece and Italy reported beatings, sexual harassment, threats to their physical well-being, threats to their children’s or spouse’s physical well-being, children and spouses being forced to watch as they were beaten up and so on. Already five or six years ago several European courts ruled that persons must not be deported back to Italy or Greece for these reasons.

The situation along the way to Germany has not improved, quite the opposite. I kinda laughed when Denmark announced it would take away all valuables of refugees reaching the country, thinking what valuables (stealing money from the poor and beaten, that is so in the Christian spirit). The little that didn’t go towards paying smugglers or was successfully hidden was often taken away by corrupt police forces along the way. The reports by refugees are so numerous it’s mind-numbing. Basically, you will not reach central Europe without having been detained and forced to surrender your money at least once.
Fortress Europe, as many call it, has been erected over the past two decades. Not a single European country ever really had an interest in a fair asylum system. We made our (business) deals with Assad and all the other thugs in the world, and they were meant to keep refugees/migrants away from us. Take Libya for example: Once Gaddafi was halfway rehabilitated, oil came to Europe again and incentives were negotiated to keep Africans away from Europe. Once he was ousted, EU delegations were quick to make sure the interim government would not change this policy. Since the 1990s and the Balkan wars policy in Europe has always been about how to reduce the number of persons getting here, not how to organise for an effective asylum system. At the same time as England agreed to join the forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan, they greatly restricted access to asylum in the UK. “We are invading your country, so stay the fuck there.”
Over the past five years, there has also been no attempt whatsoever to effectively help with the refugees from Syria. Germany first allowed 5000, in the end 20,000 persons from refugee camps in Lebanon to be moved to Germany. The regulations and screening procedures were a bureaucratic monster, straining the resources of UNHCR which was to select the lucky ones. With the neighbouring countries of Syria hosting well over two Million refugees even then, 20,000 was an absurdly low number. Yet, it was ten times more than the next most generous country.
The next best thing would be to give all the support needed to help the refugees in Turkey, Northern Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. Given, Turkey is a special case, but the other three countries provide full access to all UN bodies, and are straining. Promises were made, but the funding gap consistently remains around 50%.
The response by the European States at large has never been a genuine concern for the people affected by the escalating violence in Syria. This hasn’t changed. Now there’s a grossly disproportionate concern for ISIS, while the true slaughtering can go on unabated, producing even more refugees.
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Old 01-15-2016, 04:32 AM   #53
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Actually it is almost universally APPALLING. We (the west) have completely failed women in these nations, because we'd rather get cheap oil. It is shocking what goes on in the 21st century. As a woman, I'm ashamed.
No denying it, but isn't it also interesting how we are immediately focussed on that? That was the point people haven't got tired to make in the aftermath of Köln, that of course there is all reason to have a debate on the situation for women in the Arab society. It's a huge topic in Egypt, where many women say in resignation that the Arab Spring didn't exactly pay off for the country, but especially it didn't pay off for women. This would be a topic for another thread, and we are also looking at more than a dozen countries, with varying degrees of discrimination, violence and also politico-religious structures.

The criticism is to how the role of women in these societies has all of a sudden become cause for concern. As a lot of commentators pointed out, what happened on New Year's Eve is no different than what happens at any day during carnival, which starts next month, or during Oktoberfest, but that has never caused the whole country to discuss the evil Judeo-Christian misogynist man, and it certainly has not resulted in a single vigilante group to roam the streets and attack any man who happened to be out past 8pm.
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Old 01-16-2016, 10:27 AM   #54
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No denying it, but isn't it also interesting how we are immediately focussed on that?

...

The criticism is to how the role of women in these societies has all of a sudden become cause for concern.
See I don't see this at all. Now you live in Germany and therefore are much more familiar with general European news, commentators and attitudes and have a totally different perspective. In North America, the women of the Arab world are like the forgotten minority. Every once in a while you get some outrage about a woman being stoned, or not being permitted to drive, but ultimately there has been no organized, concerted effort to care or do anything about it. The US government is in bed with the Saudi royal family, a relationship so ingrained that for the duration of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations every second (Republican) commentator on CNN and similar channels was despairing over how much this is upsetting the Saudis. Hello, who cares? The Saudis are the most brutal, awful, entitled dictatorship around, a major funding nation of terrorism, one of the main antagonists of Israel (and yet nobody wants to talk about it), but heaven forbid anyone calls for real change there.

The Arab nations, when it comes to women's rights, are living in the stone age, maybe even worse than that. And this is a good place where you can actually separate Islam from culture to a degree, because there are other Islamic majority countries where the situation is not as bad although if we are being honest, the rights of women in Muslim majorities are extremely poor, it is just a question of degree. But that's a debate for another day.
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Old 01-31-2016, 08:23 AM   #55
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See I don't see this at all. Now you live in Germany and therefore are much more familiar with general European news, commentators and attitudes and have a totally different perspective. In North America, the women of the Arab world are like the forgotten minority. Every once in a while you get some outrage about a woman being stoned, or not being permitted to drive, but ultimately there has been no organized, concerted effort to care or do anything about it. The US government is in bed with the Saudi royal family, a relationship so ingrained that for the duration of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations every second (Republican) commentator on CNN and similar channels was despairing over how much this is upsetting the Saudis. Hello, who cares? The Saudis are the most brutal, awful, entitled dictatorship around, a major funding nation of terrorism, one of the main antagonists of Israel (and yet nobody wants to talk about it), but heaven forbid anyone calls for real change there.

The Arab nations, when it comes to women's rights, are living in the stone age, maybe even worse than that. And this is a good place where you can actually separate Islam from culture to a degree, because there are other Islamic majority countries where the situation is not as bad although if we are being honest, the rights of women in Muslim majorities are extremely poor, it is just a question of degree. But that's a debate for another day.
If you look at the current British government I think their entire policies in regards to Saudi Arabia even exceed that of the US. The US sees it as a trade relationship and enjoys having their bases their, for the rest they treat Saudi Arabia with astonishing indifference.
Cameron's government, on the other hand, is actively brushing over Saudi's awful human rights record or the very fact that the state-endorsed Wahhabi teaching of Islam, with state-funded Islamic schools crowding out local Islamic schools around in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Balkans being prime recruiters of Islamic fundamentalists, has been key in bringing Saudi Arabia into the human rights council of the UN, and just yesterday released yet another report that bends over backwards to ignore the various human rights violations in the country.

I think the only country that has done anything significant and admirable in terms of defending human rights has been Sweden, which didn't step back when their criticism of the flogging of Raif Badawi actually hurt their trade and diplomatic relations.

But yes, it's another topic altogether. In regards to the incidences that happened in Cologne, my point were the following:

1. The crimes committed were used as a vehicle to turn the public's view from favour to anger, fear and hostility towards non-Western immigrants in general, and refugees in particular. A broad generalisation of North African/Middle Eastern/Muslim was used to perpetuate stereotypes about a "culture" that was to explain why these people just have it in their DNA to commit sexualized crimes. No one knew who these attackers were exactly, their background, how long they have been here, the reasons they came here, the social circles they moved in, the circumstances they lived in before they came here or anything else. This was especially exemplified in an immediate blaming of these crimes on the refugees, most of whom stemming from Syria. Racial stereotypes of "them Muslim savages who only know how to mistreat women come here and endanger our women" were exploited to create an atmosphere of hatred and deep distrust. No one cared to look up what happens to a man who attacks, gropes or sexually insults a woman in this entire region. Instead, the attacks on Tahrir Square or in Syria were brought up as a case in point, as if revolutions and state-organised mass attacks are somehow the norm in Egypt and Syria.
2. The people who most vocally called for action against these "Muslim North African Arab Middle Easterners" (by that, everyone with a different skin colour is automatically rendered Muslim and a risk to "our" women), were the same people that say to any woman who dares speak her mind, "Shut up; slut; bitch; you deserve to be raped" etc. Trump and his followers got up in arms about the issue, of all people. UKIP, Britain First, the German NPD and AFD, Front National, Wilders and the entire rest of the otherwise misogynist, racist garbage suddenly showed concern for the safety of women.
3. To reiterate, every third woman in the EU reported to have been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual crimes in a recent study. And no, these women did not overwhelmingly report recently arrived war refugees or Arabs from undisclosed heritage to be the attackers, they were family members, husbands or other fellow white Europeans in the majority of reported cases. Or just think of the woman who walked the streets of New York filming the men whistling, staring and making sexual gestures or comments at her in broad daylight. She wore a perfectly normal top and shorts, but was told if she hadn't dressed as sexually inappropriate, none of that would've happened, and she just got what she asked for (which in turn means, we don't want women to wear burqas, because that's what evil, misogynist Muslims do, but if a woman shows skin she is being told to be "sexifying" herself for men and she should cover up). Point being: We have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to gender-based crimes, yet we can perfectly brush over our own shortcomings because we can point fingers at the whole of North Africa and the Middle East.
4. Saudi Arabia is not the same as the rest of the Middle East or North Africa. There's great diversity. There are great differences in the situations of women in society. The role of women in the various Arab cultures is extremely complex, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. That's not to say that women in these countries in general do not have it harder than the average European or North American woman. Severe crimes against women there are at a greater rate, indeed. Laws often discriminate against women. But after Cologne there were no calls to for promoting change in these societies. Instead, the calls for closing our borders even tighter, to cap the number of asylum seekers, and to expel all these criminals from our sacred countries became greater.
Do you see a general shift in our attitude towards these countries, that we know so little about? Except for the fact that women’s rights there must be deplorable, and that all men are just violent, macho sexual gropers who now come here and take the innocence away from our princesses? Because this has been exactly the kind of response by the far-right, who discovered women’s rights for themselves when it could be used against foreigners.
I’m working in Kurdistan and Iraq, one of our topics are women’s rights, fighting FGM, sexualised violence, forced marriage, self-immolation etc. We are working with an organisation in Afghanistan that works in the field of women’s rights. We are working with terre des femmes. The center for torture victims Berlin has an entire project for refugee women who are provided safe housing to protect them from their violent family members and husbands. None has gained any extra attention. No one approaches these initiatives and asks “How can we contribute towards changing attitudes in these countries?”
Last year, 1005 attacks on refugee shelters were recorded by the police in Germany. About 90 already this month. Just this week a hand grenade was thrown at a shelter. Only because it malfunctioned nothing more happened. The leader of the AFD has now stated that police should shoot refugees trying to cross the border into Germany, saying that was within the limits of the law (she may be forgiven, having been born in Dresden she probably confused GDR border laws with the existing laws of the Federal Republic). Her party colleague, at the question whether that should mean that if a mother and child were to try and get into the country, the police should kill the mother answered with a simple “Yes.” This same woman, by the way, granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister and ultra-conservative Catholic in her policies wants women back in the kitchen, not to be seen or heard in public (why doesn’t she start with herself?) and homosexuality outlawed. But I’m digressing.
This is not a debate on what is the right way to respond to the current refugee situation, the Syrian war, ISIS in Iraq, a vicious dictatorship in Eritrea, a looming genocide in South Sudan and Burundi or a civil war in the Central African Republic. It’s saying, we are Europe and all to ourselves. Have they considered reforming global trade policies? Have they bothered to take into account Europe’s colonial past and post-colonial policies and trade? “We” (as in, the industrialised nations) are not responsible for all that is wrong in the rest of the world. There is agency on these countries. But on the other hand, we cannot absolve ourselves from having any and all responsibility for these very conditions. And a resulting responsibility to provide for the people who are suffering under these conditions, that exceeds a little bit of feel-good charity.
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