Syrians Call On Asylum Seekers To Denounce Sexual Harassment

An online campaign aims to fight backlash against migrants in Germany by declaring disgust with a string of New Year's Eve assaults

Supporters of Germany's anti-immigration movement protest refugees. — REUTERS
Jan 10, 2016 at 2:41 PM ET

Desperate Syrians are pleading with fellow asylum seekers to denounce sexual harassment in the aftermath of a string of assaults in the German city of Cologne—and amid mounting backlash against refugees.

Cologne police said they recorded 379 cases of violence on New Year’s Eve ranging from theft to groping and two reported rapes. While investigations are ongoing over who was responsible for the attacks, authorities have said they’re focusing mostly on people of North African origin. “The majority of them are asylum seekers and people who are in Germany illegally,” police said, the AFP reported.

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Seeking to ease angry sentiment that has included protests against “rapefugees” and a proposal for tougher laws on convicted migrants, hundreds of members of a Facebook group for Syrian refugees and asylum seekers in Germany posted messages condemning cases of violence. Some of them posted the names of Syrians they say are suspected of harassing women.

“We Syrians in Germany and everywhere else feel really bad after these criminal sexual harassment and robbery acts that occurred in the NYE at the city of Cologne, Hamburg and many other cities,” reads a Facebook event page called Syrians Against Sexual Assaults, or  سوريين ضد الاعتداءات الجنسية in Arabic. “We ask the German authorities to impose penalties against those criminals. Moreover we ask them to trad (sic) those scum back from where they come.”

The event, which was created on Saturday by a Syrian refugee residing in Cologne, invited “every Syrian, German, Arab and human” to send a positive message to the German people by taking a picture with a piece of paper declaring that Syrians are against sexual assault, and posting it to social media.

Translation (from Arabic): Syrians against sexual assaults