The cathedral opposite the main train station used to be the traditional gathering spot for New Year's Eve revelers in the German city of Cologne.
This year, Germans who poured out from the train station to celebrate the New Year they were met by a crowd of some 1000 young men. The men, according to German police, seemed to be of Arab or North African origin. They had taken over the entire public square in front of the station, and divided themselves into smaller gangs to surround women who were passing by. They then sexually assaulted them, and stole their wallets, purses and phones.
Police have so far received over 100 criminal complaints; three-quarters of them for sexual assault, and one for rape.
"Shortly after midnight, the first women came to us... Crying and in shock they described how they had been severely sexually harrassed. We went to look for women in the crowd. I picked one up from the ground. She was screaming and crying. Her underwear had been torn from her body," an unnamed policeman said.
In Hamburg, according to the police, a series of similar incidents took place in the city's Reeperbahn red-light district. Witnesses described groups of five to fifteen men of who "hunted" women in the streets."
The Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, suggested in response, a "code of conduct" for German girls and women, as a measure to "prevent such things from ever happening again." Her proposed code of conduct entails staying at an arm's length from strangers, remaining within one's group, and asking bystanders to intervene or help as a witness.
The "code of conduct" Mayor Reker recommended sparked a storm of criticism against her. She later said that not only German women but visitors from "other cultures" should also be educated on acceptable conduct as well. "We need to prevent confusion about what constitutes happy behaviour and what is utterly separate from openness, especially in sexual behaviour," she said.
So Cologne is facing mass sexual assaults, robbery and violence from what appear to be huge organized gangs of young migrant men, and the mayor is talking of teaching "happy behavior"?!
Yet, this is the approach that is often taken in other countries of Europe. As Andrew Higgins wrote in the New York Times last month, in Norway, Muslim immigrants are taught how to relate to women:
"Fearful of stigmatizing migrants as potential rapists and playing into the hands of anti-immigrant politicians, most European countries have avoided addressing the question of whether men arriving from more conservative societies might get the wrong idea once they move to places where it can seem as if anything goes. But, with more than a million asylum seekers arriving in Europe this year, an increasing number of politicians and also some migrant activists now favor offering coaching in European sexual norms and social codes."
"The biggest danger for everyone is silence," said a clinical psychologist in Norway, Per Isdal, who has been working with the immigrants. Many refugees come from cultures that are not gender equal and where women are the property of men. We have to help them adapt to their new culture," Mr. Isdal said.
A course manual in Norway sets out a simple rule that all asylum seekers need to learn and follow: "To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person."
Other than the "code of conduct" for German women to help keep criminal immigrant sexual predators away, Cologne's Mayor Reker was most cautious in her statements. She avoided criticizing in any way Germany's immigration policies, which led last year to one million migrants entering Germany. "It's completely improper... to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees," said Reker.
But facts are facts. Of the more than one million migrants arriving in Germany in 2015, most were from Muslim countries, mainly from the Middle East or North Africa.
"We will not tolerate such cowardly and abhorrent attacks," said German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. "This is apparently an entirely new dimension of organized crime." All of those involved, Maas demanded, must be "identified and made accountable."
That is not going to be easy, German officials made clear: "Footage from surveillance cameras mounted at the entrance to the Cologne station will certainly help, but the number of people on the square combined with darkness and the not entirely reliable memories of many of those partying at the site will make the process dramatically more difficult."
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, despite the problems being caused by the wave of migrants, has refused to set a limit on how many migrants Germany should admit.
Despite German officialdom's assurances that it will seek justice for the victims of the sexual assaults and violence on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and elsewhere, Mayor Reker's "code of conduct" for women and girls in the face of sexual assaults represents a new low in the way that Europe approaches crime -- which is becoming increasingly rampant.
What will be next? Will there be further "codes of conduct" requesting girls and women only to walk outside accompanied by a male escort? As unimaginable as this sounds, that is the kind of measure the "code of conduct" will invite.
The flaw in the "code of conduct" is that it makes girls and women responsible for the criminal conduct of male predators.
What will be the defendant's argument in a future case: "Well, your honor, she did not keep me at arm's length, so of course I assumed she was game"?
The idea that there should be any "code of conduct" for girls and women to accommodate male predators not only places the blame on the victim; it is an inversion of responsibility. This has no precedence in the West, either in culture or in jurisprudence. Blaming female victims only emboldens male sexual predators.
The migrants know what laws are -- there are plenty of them under Islamic sharia law. In the West, there is another type of law in their new host countries, which have welcomed them as guests. In the Middle East, "host countries" with "guests" is also a familiar concept. Virtually all the monarchies and emirates hold the view that the state is their "house" and newcomers their guests; so if a guest cannot behave the way the host expects, he is escorted out. No one would expect a host to put up with a guest who trashed his house.
In the same way, each asylum seeker, upon entering Europe, needs to be informed immediately, in the clearest possible manner, that all women, even infidels, must be treated with respect.
The politically correct urge to accommodate the culture of immigrants only means that justice is no longer blind. It means regressing to unequal justice before the law. It means that because of even a well-intentioned courtesy, half the citizens -- women -- remain mistreated, disregarded, and with scant, if any, rights.
Unacceptable behavior is not exclusive to Germany. It is a troubling trend that has spread in recent years over large parts of Britain and the European continent.
In March 2014, the British Law Society adopted controversial guidelines for solicitors on how to compile "Sharia compliant" wills. The guidelines allowed British solicitors to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude "unbelievers" altogether. Children born out of wedlock -- and even those who had been adopted -- could not be counted as legitimate heirs. The idea, apparently, was that these guidelines, favoring inequality, should be recognized by British courts. At the time, Nicholas Fluck, then president of the Law Society, said the guidance would promote "good practice" in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.
Facing a barrage of protests, the Law Society, just eight months later, had to apologize and withdraw the controversial recommendations. Andrew Caplen, then the new president of the society, apologized and said that the criticism had been taken on board.
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, who had campaigned for the guidelines to be withdrawn, said:
"This is an important reverse for what had seemed to be the relentless march of sharia to becoming de facto British law. Until now, politicians and the legal establishment either encouraged this process or spinelessly recoiled from acknowledging what was happening. I congratulate the Law Society for heeding the objections we and others made. This is particularly good news for women who fare so badly under sharia law, which is a non-democratically determined, non-human rights compliant and discriminatory code".
Another example of accommodation in Britain came in December 2015. A two-year commission, the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life, chaired by former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, concluded in its report ,"Living with Difference: community, diversity and the common good," that Britain is no longer a Christian country, and should stop acting as if it were one. The Commission's report stated that the decline of churchgoing and the rise of Islam and other faiths means that a "new settlement" is needed for religion in the UK.
Perhaps most controversially, the report called for a new approach to anti-terror policy (page 37):
"In universities two of the biggest problems put to us in our consultation were to do with a tendency to view issues of religion and belief through a lens of security and counter-terrorism... there is currently concern about the requirements of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 in relation to universities. 'Enabling free debate within the law,' wrote the Russell Group of universities, 'is a key function which universities perform in our democratic society. Imposing restrictions on non-violent extremism or radical views would risk limiting freedom of speech on campus and may potentially drive those with radical views off campus and underground, where ... [they] cannot be challenged in an open environment. Closing down challenge and debate could foster extremism and dissent ... "
Simply put, the report advocates, in the name of free speech and "living with difference," that students should be allowed to voice extremist and radical views on campus without fear of being reported to the security services.
The report was condemned by Cabinet ministers as "seriously misguided," and the Church of England said it was "a waste." Among those who fathered the report and provided input to it were the former and present Archbishops of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and Justin Welby; Home Secretary Theresa May, and senior executives at the BBC and Channel 4.
In the United Kingdom, Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the House of Lords and a nurse by training, is attempting to reverse this trend. This October, she introduced a bill in the House of Lords to make it illegal for any arbitration tribunal to "do anything that constitutes discrimination, harassment or victimisation on grounds of sex." She quoted one Muslim woman who had told her, "I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from." When a colleague claimed the Bill was trying to "demonise Muslims," another colleague, Lord Carlile, said it was really just trying to "demonise discrimination."
Left: A scene from New Year's Eve in front of Cologne's central railway station. Right: Britain's Baroness Caroline Cox, who is leading a fight to protect women's rights from the encroachment of Islamic Sharia law on the British legal system.
Europe seems to have learned nothing from the past decades. Its problems with immigrant Muslim populations continue to deteriorate. Accommodation has not solved these problems; more accommodation will undoubtedly not solve them either. More accommodation will make them, if anything, worse.
Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.