Racist Violence and Incitement Against Refugees Explodes Across Germany
After the so called sex attacks of Cologne this New Year's Eve, German media and politicians have found a new folk devil: The sexually repressed, endemically violent Oriental man, who is "invading" Western countries behind innocent refugee cover.
It is not clear who the Oriental man really is. One day, he is described in German media as "Arab", the other day he is called "North African". In the case of Cologne, authorities announced that the majority of the young men who sexually harassed and stole from young women were "North Africans". More recently, we learned that a 13-year-old Russian-German girl who alleged that she had been kidnapped and raped by refugees had completely fabricated her story.
But let's be honest: Nobody cares about facts anymore. Nor do the specifics matter much. North Africans, Arabs, Persians, Indians – they all seem to be the same brown mass of violent invaders if you consider the recent headlines from German newspapers across the political spectrum.
One thing that’s impossible not to notice these days in German media is the rise of Orientalist cliches about young men from the Middle East or Central Asia as backward barbarians who do not know how to behave around women. We are told that their culture, their religion and their patriarchal background makes them this way. It seems that many people believe that these men could not live in harmony with so called European or Western "values". Few mentioned these hallowed values when Mohamed, a four-year-old refugee child, was kidnapped by a 32-year-old German man who raped him repeatedly before murdering him.
The construction of the wild, Oriental man is nothing new. It has been revived once again for the very same reason it was deployed during colonialist and imperialist ages: To justify continue degrading that man as dependent and exploiting him for political reasons. That's what happened in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century, and in the so-called “Dark Continent” of Africa, where Germany built its first concentration camps. And it's what is happening here in Germany at this very moment.
The highlight of this Orientalist campaign of degradation is the constant demand of accession to supposed Western values like feminism, gay rights and the right of the state of Israel to exist. Whether we accept these or not — I, for one, never had any problem with the first two — we are confronted with weird guides from European governments which should "teach" immigrants and refugees how to behave in Europe. And for that reason, we also face racist bans like the one in Bornheim near Cologne which banned all male refugees from the swimming bath.
The German media has taken on an increasingly important role in this campaign since the happenings in Cologne. And by "media," I don't mean simply mainstream media, I mean nearly every media outlet without exception. The reason for this is simple: Besides the fact the usual neoconservative suspects like the daily tabloid's of Axel Springer's vast empire abused the events of New Year's Eve to attack and defame refugees, migrants and especially Muslims, newspapers and magazines that pose as “leftist" or "liberal" felt liberated to lift the mask of tolerance and join in the hatefest. Perhaps the best example was SÃ¼ddeutsche, a leading daily paper once known for its integrity, preferred to use an illustration of a black hand grabbing a white woman's body to portray the events of Cologne. Only after a major outcry on social media did the paper admit its mistake and apologize for it.
Then there was Tagesspiegel, a Berlin based daily describing itself as “leftist" and "liberal,” published an article stating that Islam is responsible for what happened in Cologne. According to the author, "an Islamic socialization creates an image of woman which ends in such crimes". Besides, he pointed out that "Islam is not a race", so one cannot be described as a racist if he or she argues like that.
The supposedly liberal media’s campaign against refugees extended beyond German borders. Falter, an Austrian weekly which also describes itself as “leftist", used another shady illustration as its cover, showing a group of men with black hair attacking women with bright, apparently blond hair. Despite a torrent of criticism, one of the chief editors still denies that this image contained racist overtones.
At the same time, Falter’s deputy editor displayed his deep expertise of Islam and Muslim peoples by taking to Twitter to claim the culprits of Cologne were socialized in "Quran schools". After I confronted him with his racist and Islamophobic attitude, his response to was to block me. In my society, white men with media credentials are the ultimate arbiters of what is racist and what is not. What their targets think can be drowned out with the simple click of a “block” button.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. Currently, the discourse in Germany is not only dominated by the usual right-wingers who constantly demand that refugees be forcibly purged from our otherwise pure Christian realm. Just days ago, Sahra Wagenknecht, a leading politician from Germany's leftist Die Linke Party, proclaimed that "the right to hospitality" fades with time and that it is not possible to take "millions of people."
Considering the fact that many people in Syria are also fleeing from the bombs of Assad's army or the Russian military – both rarely criticized by Wagenknecht or the many German leftist politicians who align their foreign policy with Putin’s — her statement was tinged with irony.
There can be no denying the ugliness of the events in Cologne. Thanks to those who exploited them for political ends, this instance has become a catastrophe for refugee policy across Europe. The anti-refugee atmosphere reached its nadir last when when the Austrian government, led by a supposedly socialist Chancellor, announced that it will accept no more than 37,500 refugees each year.
Politicians in other European countries now tout the "Austrian model,” ignoring that fact that it violates international law, according to several law experts. The legal argument against it is very simple: The right of asylum cannot be denied to those who qualify.
But these are irrational days when everything is possible inside the gates of the European fortress. From within our hyper-militarized Schengen borders, politicians preach democracy while leaning with all their weight on dictators, theocratic “kings,” and assorted strongmen across North Africa and the Middle East.
The Kingdom of Morocco, for example, has signed an array of agreements with the European Union that require its military to restrain refugees from departing from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. The trail of dead refugees on the African side of the Melilla fence bordering Spain is a perfect testament to the brutality of the Moroccan government. Perhaps this is why none of our leaders here are pressuring Morocco to take back its citizens who caused so much trouble on New Year's Eve in Cologne.
Behind the headlines about sex crazed Arabs pouring into Europe to violate the purity of defenseless white women, hate crimes against refugees are exploding. According to a recent report by the German police, more than 1000 refugee homes have been attacked in Germany in 2015. This week, a hand grenade was tossed into a refugee housing block, and miraculously did not explode. Meanwhile, in Sweden, a gang of men dressed in all black, with black armbands, has been seen hunting down and beating refugees — and anyone who doesn’t look Swedish — as supposed revenge for assaults on women.
These acts are not a response to anything; they emanate from pure hatred towards people who have already lost everything in war-torn Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.
In the coming weeks, Syrian families will continue to wash up on the shores of Europe with nothing after having fled from Assad and IS’s brutality. Sadly, we are no longer able to tell them that they have reached safety.