The Messages We Send

This article was originally published on the TOI blog service, but was removed for being ‘offensive’. I was unable to reach the admins for further information, so have reproduced the article here in its entirety.

Living in a democratic state under the rule of law means many things. It guarantees, for example, the right to a fair trial, and ensures that suspects of criminal offenses are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

It is always important to remember, however, that this is not a system that automatically ensures justice. It is often said that we don’t have a justice system, but a legal system, and this held true today.

Today, on Friday May 6th, 2016, a judge dismissed sexual assault charges against an Algerian man relating to events of New Years Eve in Cologne. The 26 year old, the first to be charged in relation to these events, was convicted alongside a fellow Algerian (23) of lesser offenses, but according to a court spokesman, “it could not be proven” that the first man had taken part in the sexual assault. Be that as it may, what kind of messages does the failure to convict anyone for these crimes send out?

To the victims, the message is clear. It is as clear as when the mayor of Cologne engaged in outright victim blaming, telling women that they need to “stick together in groups” – that they should not expect to feel safe in their own city. It is a message as damning at the silence of Angela Merkel in the face of a wave of rapes and sexual assaults across the entire country after the entry of more than a million migrants and refugees of Middle-Eastern and African heritage to Germany in the last year.

The message sent is the same. It is consistent, and it is utterly cold to those who have been subjected to even the most horrific of assaults. The German government simply does not care.

When Germany and the wider EU chose to authorize the entry of over a million migrants and refugees, they did so without the wider consent of the population – there was no referendum on the migrant crisis. But Germany has refused to compensate its citizens that have become victims as a result of this unilateral and undemocratic migration policy. Reports from across Europe show that Cologne was not an isolated incident – it has proved itself to be only the tip of an iceberg that is now shearing through the hull of European unity.

It is not just the fact that there has been a lack of support for the victims – in some cases, the victims themselves have even come under attack. A woman interviewed about a sexual assault she suffered on New Years Eve had her details posted online with crude insults suggesting that she was a racist and had made everything up. One wonders whether they will ever see justice.

This Algerian suspect, though acquitted of the sexual assault charge, may in fact have been an offender and active participant in the attacks (he had stolen the mobile phone of a woman who had it stolen while being groped). The failure of the German authorities to successfully convict one individual of sexual assault charges directly relating to the events which transpired in Cologne sends another message; a message to the migrants who came to Germany illegally seeking to capitalize on the refugee crisis in order to get into the country.

The message is that they will not brought to justice for sexual crimes against innocent Germen women. The message is that if they are enough in number, and if they are able to conceal their identity by operating at night or wearing dark clothing, they will be able to get away with anything. The fact that the charge of sexual assault was shot down was no doubt a sigh of relief to the other 1000 or so perpetrators of the Cologne Attacks as well as other incidences of sexual assault throughout the country.

Now is a time for reflection more than any other. How did we get to the point where Arab-style mass sexual assault and rape is now a European phenomenon? What does is say when the Arabic words for ‘mass sexual assault’, or taḥarrush jamāʿī, have now entered our lexicon as ‘taharrush’? And more importantly, having imported over a million migrants, with Europe already reaping the consequences of what our governments have sown, where do we go from here?

What messages do we send?

Will TG Miller

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