In October, Henriette Reker, who was running for mayor of Cologne, became the face of Germany’s welcoming attitude toward the refugees and migrants who entered the country in 2015.
A German man, angered by Reker’s liberal views on migration, stabbed her in the neck, a day before Cologne, one of Germany’s most diverse cities, voted in mayoral elections. Reker, an independent candidate supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, triumphed—highlighting, among other things, how welcoming Germany has been of people fleeing civil war in Syria and unrest elsewhere.
Indeed, the country’s Interior Ministry announced Wednesday that 1,091,894 people were registered as asylum seekers in 2015. Syrians were the biggest group (428,468 ), followed by Afghans (154,046), and Iraqis (121,662).
What a difference two months make: Germans are divided over whether the country can handle the influx of migrants and about the government’s position on refugees. And they are mocking Reker’s comment following criminal complaints by more than 100 women who say they were sexually assaulted—two say they were raped—on New Year’s Eve in Cologne by men of “Arab or North African” background. It’s worth pointing out here that German officials are not directly linking the two issues, though opponents of immigration most certainly are.