Germany. Extensive sexual assaults committed outside the
central station in Cologne on New Year's Eve caused great
consternation. Hundreds of women were exposed by
perpetrators, mainly newly arrived asylum seekers from North
Africa. Data appeared to appear to be co-ordinated sex
offenses, often at the same time as robberies and thefts,
also elsewhere. A heated debate on integration and the
ongoing refugee crisis in Europe followed.
countryaah, the events in Cologne in combination with ever-increasing
demands to reduce the influx of migrants led to the adoption
of a stricter asylum law, in which several countries were
classified as "safe", which impaired the opportunities for
asylum for their citizens. The right to family reunification
was also restricted. Another consequence was that the
Covenant Day adopted a further definition of rape so that
the term did not require violence. It also became easier to
expel sex offenders.
The development contributed to a strong upswing for the
right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which
increasingly profiled itself as hostile to Islam. In the
five state elections held during the year, the party
received between 14 and 24% of the vote. Both federal
parties at the federal level, Christian Democratic CDU and
Social Democratic SPD, lost mandate. In Mecklenburg-Western
Pomerania, the AfD came in second place, before the CDU, but
neither there nor elsewhere the party was invited to
participate in any coalition government. Most startling in
general was that the Green Party for the first time became
the largest party in a state, Baden-Württemberg.
In February, twelve people were killed and dozens injured
when two local trains crashed in Bavaria. The accident was
caused by a traffic controller who was distracted by a game
on his mobile.
In June, the Bundestag passed a resolution that genocide
was committed against Armenians and other Christians in the
Ottoman Empire during the First World War. This prompted
Turkey to call its ambassador from Berlin. Eleven German MPs
with roots in Turkey were subjected to fatal threat and
received police protection.
A mass shooting without clear motives occurred in Munich
in July, when an 18-year-old shot dead nine people in a
shopping mall. Two other acts of violence occurred the same
week, also in Bavaria: a 17-year-old with a knife and ax
injured fellow passengers on a local train before he was
shot dead by police, and a 27-year-old died when an
explosive charge he carried exploded outside a wine cellar.
In both cases, the perpetrators were asylum seekers who had
expressed extremist Islamist views. It contributed to
increased criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's continued
stance that refugee policy should be as generous as
possible. Despite this and despite the CDU's crush, Merkel
was re-elected at a party congress in December with a wide
margin as party leader ahead of the election for Bundesdag
The week before Christmas, Berlin was hit by a terrorist
attack that gave new fuel to the criticism against Merkel.
Twelve people were killed and over 50 injured when a truck
was driven into the crowd at a Christmas market. The
assailant was a 24-year-old Tunisian who was known by the
police as a radical Islamist. He was shot a few days later
by police in Italy.