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Yearbook 2016

2016 GermanyGermany. 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.

According to 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.

2016 Germany

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 next year.

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.

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