Thousands in Germany protest racial profiling of refugees
by Daily Sabah with Wires
ISTANBULJan 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Wires
Jan 18, 2016 12:00 am
Thousands of people have gathered in the German city of Stuttgart to protest racism, xenophobia and violence against asylum-seekers amid the country's massive influx of migrants.
Saturday's demonstration in the southwestern city was organized by churches, labor unions and other groups to protest the attacks on refugees. Germany registered nearly 1.1 million asylum-seekers last year and the country has seen constant attacks on migrant housing. Tensions have reached new heights lately, with hundreds of assaults on women in Cologne and other areas on New Year's Eve making headlines and largely being blamed on refugees in the country.
Police estimated that the protest had a turnout of 7,000 people, the news agency DPA reported. Protestant bishop Frank Otfried July told protesters, "Whether it's cowardly arson attacks on the homes of asylum-seekers, foreigners being chased down or violence [against women], we are showing it the red card."
Meanwhile, Syrian refugees gathered in Cologne that same day to speak out against sexual violence against women and scapegoating. The Deutsche Welle reported that the participants carried placards that read, "Together against violence" and "Say no to violence against women." Protestors also emphasized that the perpetrators who allegedly molested hundreds of women do not represent their values and culture.
The New Year's Eve assaults stunned Germany, where the massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and other regions has triggered widespread xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment.
"The fact that such a large number of people from an obvious immigrant background perpetrated these attacks constitutes a new [criminal] dimension," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. "This should not, however, lead to a situation in which refugees seeking protection here are placed under general suspicion irrespective of their origin," he cautioned.
A telephone survey of 1,203 people conducted Jan. 12-14 for ZDF television revealed that the assaults significantly changed the attitudes of 33 percent of survey participants towards asylum and refugee issues, with 66 percent indicating it had not. At the same time, 60 percent of those surveyed said that Germany can no longer cope with the many migrants who are arriving; increasing from 46 percent last month.
Regarding the refugee influx itself, however, Merkel is standing firm and sticking to her widely criticized mantra: "we will manage it." The direct impact of the Cologne assaults on opinion polls so far appears to be limited; however, one survey revealed Merkel's popularity is sliding again. In the past week, national polls have placed support for an alternative for Germany between nine and 11 percent, no more than a point or two higher than late last year, with Merkel's Union bloc at 37 or 38 percent; its losses staying within the margin of error thus far.
The majority of migrants come from the Middle East and Africa, as the turmoil in the Middle East and the five-year war in Syria have led many people to flee the conflict in an attempt to seek security and shelter in a more prosperous and peaceful country, such as one in Europe. However, Europe has often been slammed for lacking a collaborative response to the crisis.