January 1. Some 2,000 "highly aggressive" migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East gathered at the central train station in Cologne and the square in front of the iconic Cologne Cathedral, where mass sexual assaults occurred on New Year's Eve 2015. A massive police presence consisting of 1,700 officers deterred mayhem. Police reported three sexual assaults on New Year's Eve 2016, compared to more than a thousand on the same day in 2015.
January 1. In Berlin, at least 22 women were sexually assaulted during New Year's Eve celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate, despite the presence of 1,700 police officers. Police initially reported six assaults, but after inquiries from local media raised that number. In Hamburg, at least 14 women were sexually assaulted. Police arrested three Iraqis, three Syrians, two Afghans, one Eritrean and one German-Russian.
January 2. Greens Party Leader Simone Peter accused the Cologne Police Department of racial profiling after a tweet referred to North African migrants as "Nafris." The head of the DPolG, Ernst Walter, explained that "Nafri" is not derogatory but rather a technical acronym used by the police to refer to "North African intensive offender" (nordafrikanische Intensivtäter). "If a North African person is suspected of committing a crime, he is a 'Nafri,'" Walter said. Cologne Police Chief Jürgen Mathies added: "From the experiences of the past New Year's Eve, from experience gained by police raids as a whole, a clear impression has emerged here about which persons are to be checked. They are not gray-haired older men or blond-haired young women."
January 2. Police in Saarland arrested Hasan A., a 38-year-old asylum seeker from Syria who solicited €180,000 ($192,000) in funds from the Islamic State in order to carry out a high-casualty terrorist attack in Germany. The prosecutor's office in Saarbrücken said the man asked the Islamic State for the money to purchase eight vehicles (€22,500 each) which would be camouflaged as police cars, loaded with 400-500 kilos of explosives, and exploded into a large crowd. Hasan said he wanted the money to support his family in Syria, not to carry out attacks in Germany.
January 3. Amnesty International called for an investigation of the police in Cologne for the alleged "racial profiling" of North African migrants who were suspected of promoting violence on New Year's Eve.
January 3. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called for a "reorganization" of the security structures in Germany in order to confront the challenges of terrorism, large influxes of asylum seekers and cyberattacks. He said the federal government should be given more powers than it has now.
January 5. North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Regional Criminal Police Director Dieter Schürmann revealed that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Tunisian Salafist who carried out the jihadist attack on the Christmas market in Berlin on December 19, 2016, was known by authorities to be a threat to security as early as February 2016 but that they had found no evidence to arrest him. Schürmann also said that Amri had also used a total of 14 different identities under multiple names to collect social welfare benefits.
January 6. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel called for a "culture war" to defeat Islamism. "If we are serious about the fight against Islamism and terrorism, then it must also be a cultural struggle," he said. "We must strengthen the cohesion of society and ensure that neighborhoods are not neglected, villages are not degenerated and people are not becoming more and more radicalized," he added. Gabriel also said that "Salafist mosques must be banned, the communities dissolved and the preachers deported, as soon as possible."
January 7. A group of five "Black Africans" (Schwarzafrikanern) sexually assaulted a 28-year-old woman in Hamburg. The woman, a nurse at the Asklepios-Klinik St. Georg, was walking to her car after her shift ended when she heard someone screaming for help in an adjacent park. When she went to lend a hand she was ambushed by the men, assaulted and robbed.
January 7. Asif M., a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan, appeared in court on charges he raped one woman and attempted to rape five others in Berlin-Steglitz. He insisted that he was the victim: "As a refugee, it is difficult to find a girlfriend."
January 7. An Emnid poll for Bild am Sonntag found that 58% of German women believe that public places have become less safe due the migration crisis. Nearly half (48%) say they avoid certain areas in their place of residence when it is dark, and 16% now carry pepper spray when they are on their own after dark.
January 7. Intelligence Chief Hans-Georg Maaßen warned that Germany's Salafist scene is not only growing, but also becoming more decentralized, thus making it more difficult to monitor. He said the number of Salafists in Germany was 9,700, up 500 from 9,200 in October 2016.
January 11. The Interior Ministry reported that a total of 321,371 migrants arrived in Germany in 2016, compared to 1,091,894 in 2015. Of the new arrivals in 2016, 280,000 were asylum seekers, compared to 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015. As if the statistics were not sufficiently complicated, a total of 745,545 people applied for asylum in 2016, compared to 476,649 who applied for asylum in 2015. The 2016 figure includes migrants who arrived in Germany in 2015 but did not apply for asylum until 2016. Around 35% of the asylum seekers in 2016 were from Syria, 17% from Afghanistan and 13% from Iraq.
January 11. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said that Germany's security apparatus must be updated in order to combat Islamic terrorism. "Our security architecture dates back to the fifties and sixties when we were dealing mostly with regional crime," he said.
January 12. Germany's largest Islamic association, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), admitted that some of its preachers acted as informants for the Turkish government. DITIB is financed by the Turkish government's Directorate for Religious Affairs, known in Turkish as Diyanet. DITIB has been described as the "extended arm" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who uses it to promote Turkish nationalism and to prevent integration among the Turkish diaspora. The spies sent information about followers of Fethullah Gülen, a 78-year-old cleric based in the United States and whom Turkey accuses of plotting a failed military coup in July 2016.
January 13. A YouGov poll found that 52% of Germans believe that police in Cologne did a good job on New Year's Eve. The poll also showed that 63% of Germans do not find racial profiling problematic, compared to 27% who do. The poll followed criticism of a police operation in Cologne on New Year's Eve in which hundreds of "Nafris" — a term for North African criminals — were arrested.
January 14. A "southerner" (südländischer Typ) assaulted an 80-year-old woman in Leipzig-Neulindenau. The woman was working in her garden at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when she noticed that a man was loitering nearby. He lunged at the woman and beat her so badly that she was hospitalized. Before getting into the ambulance, she asked someone to take a photograph of her bloody face to draw public attention to rising migrant crime. Her picture was published by Bild, the largest-circulation newspaper in Germany. "It cannot be that you have to be afraid of being on the streets even during the middle of the day," she said. The perpetrator remains at large.
January 18. Member of the German Parliament Burkhard Lischka revealed that German authorities lost track of three of the 547 jihadists who are being monitored by German intelligence.
January 18. A 27-year-old Kosovar was sentenced to one year and ten months of probation for sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman in Freiburg. The man followed the woman into a restroom at a night club, told her that he was a narcotics detective, forced her to undress and then tried to rape her.
January 19. German authorities issued 105,000 visas for so-called family reunifications in 2016, a 50% increase over the 70,000 visas issued in 2015, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Almost all the visas were issued to Syrians and Iraqis. Family reunifications — individuals whose asylum applications are approved are subsequently allowed to bring additional family members to Germany — are not included in asylum application statistics. In other words, the 105,000 visas for family members were in addition to the 280,000 new asylum seekers who arrived in Germany in 2016.
January 19. Germany took back some 12,000 migrants from other European countries, in accordance with the so-called Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach. Germany took 3,700 migrants from Sweden, 1,686 from the Netherlands, 1,277 from Switzerland, 1,109 from Denmark and 763 from Belgium, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. The migrants involve asylum seekers who submitted asylum requests in Germany but moved on to other European countries before the requests were processed by German authorities.
January 19. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel threatened to cut development aid to countries which refuse to take back asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. The threat applies mainly to North African migrants from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. "It cannot be that a country takes the development aid, but not its own citizens, if they cannot get asylum with us because they simply have no reason to escape from their country," he said.
January 20. The trial began of Abubaker C., a 27-year-old Pakistani man who strangled 70-year-old Maria Müller in her bed in Bad Friedrichshall, and then painted verses from the Koran on her bedroom walls. Prosecutors said the murder was religiously motivated: The Sunni Muslim apparently murdered the woman because she was a devout Roman Catholic.
January 21. A 47-year-old asylum seeker from Syria was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for raping a 44-year-old mentally disabled woman in Soest. The suspect, who has been living in an asylum shelter in Welver at German taxpayer expense since 2003, had 23 previous convictions for offenses including assault, robbery and fare evasion. A neurologist who tended to the Syrian during his 13-year stay in Germany told the court that the man is "untreatable" (Therapieunfähig). "When he is drunk, he is unpredictable," she said.
January 23. Muslims in Hamburg are finding it difficult to bury their dead: German burial laws are incompatible with Islamic Sharia law, according to Die Welt. "The different burial cultures must be brought together," the paper stated. "The German funeral and cemetery regulations are incompatible with Islam in some respects. Believing Muslims reject cremation. The dead must be buried as soon as possible and in linen cloths. It is important that the earth is 'virgin'...the soil should not be polluted by 'unbelievers.' The dead must also be able to rest for eternity...a re-occupation of the tomb is impossible even if the remains of the deceased are completely disappeared."
January 25. Social security fraud perpetrated by asylum seekers is costing taxpayers in the state of Lower Saxony millions of euros, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. Police reported 2,644 known cases of fraud in 2016, including 487 cases by asylum seekers, up from 351 such cases in 2015. The fraud involves migrants using multiple identities to collect social welfare benefits in different cities and towns. In the city of Braunschweig alone, some 240 migrants defrauded the state of €4.8 million ($5 million) in 2016. Police say Sudanese migrants, many of whom were allowed to enter Germany without having their fingerprints taken, have "created a business model" out of social security fraud. Local officials have been accused of covering up the fraud, which came to light after an employee at a social security office contacted the police. In January 2016, she had handed her boss a file with 30 cases of suspected fraud. After he refused to act, she contacted the police in May 2016. She was fired for "overstepping her authority."
January 26. A court in Celle sentenced a 16-year-old German-Moroccan female jihadist to six years in prison for stabbing and seriously wounding a police officer, the first lone-wolf terrorist attack in Germany inspired by the Islamic State. The incident occurred at the central train station in Hanover on the afternoon of February 26, 2016, when two police officers noticed that the girl — identified only as Safia S. — was observing and following them. The officers approached the girl, who was wearing an Islamic headscarf, and asked her to present her identification papers. After handing over her ID, she stabbed one of the officers in the neck with a six-centimeter kitchen knife. According to police, the attack happened so quickly that the 34-year-old officer was unable to defend himself. "The perpetrator did not display any emotion," a police spokesperson said. "Her only concern was for her headscarf. She was concerned that her headscarf be put back on properly after she was arrested. Whether the police officer survived, she did not care."
January 26. Upkeep for the 13,600 unaccompanied child migrants (unbegleiteten minderjährigen Flüchtlingen) in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) will cost German taxpayers €632 million ($670 million) in 2017. Child migrants are arriving in NRW at the rate of 300-400 each month. Each child migrant costs €4,500 a month to maintain, in addition to an annual administrative fee of €3,100 (Verwaltungspauschal). The children are from more than 60 countries, including Afghanistan (37%), Syria (36%) and Iraq (11%). Over 90% of child migrants are male.
January 27. Due to positive net migration (more people entering the country than leaving it), the German population increased by 1.14 million in 2015, and by another 750,000 in 2016, to reach an all-time high of 82.8 million at the end of 2016, according to preliminary estimates by Destatis.
January 27. Muslim students at the Emscher-Lippe school in Gelsenkirchen refused to participate in Holocaust remembrance activities. Some 40% of the 550 students at the school are Muslim.
January 27. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble revealed that the migrant crisis would cost German taxpayers €43 billion ($46 billion) during 2016 (€21.7 billion) and 2017 (€21.3 billion).
January 28. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old Tunisian who carried out the December 19 jihadist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, could have been deported in October 2016, but that officials in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) failed to do so. De Maizière's statement contradicted claims by NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger, who said he had no legal authority to deport Amri, whose asylum application had been denied.
January 30. Süleyman D., a 25-year-old German of Turkish descent, was arrested for raping one woman and attempting to rape two more at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
January 30. The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said there could be no reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a "post-Christian phenomenon, with the claim to negate the core content of Christianity," he said. "Only those who do not know their own faith or do not take it seriously can consider a comprehensive integration of Islam as possible."
The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said on January 30 that there could be no reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. Islam is a "post-Christian phenomenon, with the claim to negate the core content of Christianity," he said. "Only those who do not know their own faith or do not take it seriously can consider a comprehensive integration of Islam as possible." (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/StagiaireMGIMO)