Cologne’s police chief, Jurgen Mathies, has rejected racial profile claims after hundreds of North African men were detained over New Year. Last New Year, mass sexual assaults were perpetrated in Cologne, Germany. The chief ordered the detentions in a bid to stop it happening again.
The detained men were gathered at Cologne’s main train station late Saturday in the Deutz district near the Rhine River. In a tweet from the police, the men were described as “seemingly of African descent.” This has prompted online critics to say the men were detained based on the colour of their skins alone.
Mr Mathies said, “I reject this negative criticism. The clear aim was to prevent similar events to previous year.”
In 2016 hundreds of people were sexually assaulted and robbed during the New Year’s celebrations. At the time North African men were largely blamed for the crimes. The crowded chaotic streets are believed to have made carrying out the crimes very easy for the perpetrators.
The 650 detained men underwent identification checks which revealed most hailed from North Africa.
Mr Mathies said, arguably controversially, “Their characteristics were such that potential crimes could indeed be expected.” He did not elaborate.
Last night around 100 people were arrested overnight, and 160 crimes were recorded. Around a dozen assaults or insults of a sexual nature were recorded.
Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker said that she was “happy and relieved” the night had gone smoothly. Around 50,000 people celebrated the New Year at Cologne Cathedral.
Anti-immigration groups which have grown in popularity over the last few years used the mass sexual assaults of last year to attack the government’s immigration policies. The far right has managed to swell its presence due to the terror attacks that have happened in Germany over 2016.
Interestingly, the police noted that most of the suspects in last year’s sexual assault attack had not immigrated to Germany within the last two years.