Cologne police under fire for NYE blitz

Authorities stopped hundreds of men of North African descent at train stations.

Police in Cologne who stopped and checked the identity papers of hundreds of men of North African appearance on New Year’s Eve have been accused of racial profiling, German media reported Monday.

According to the city’s police chief Jürgen Mathies, several hundred young men, 98 percent of whom were of North African origin, gathered at two main train stations. Many exhibited signs of aggressive behavior and were dispersed, authorities said.

While that likely helped curb violence and assaults on New Year’s Eve, Green Party leader Simone Peter told Rheinische Post that it raised serious legal questions.

Mathies defended the decision to stop and check the men individually, saying police had promised “rigorous intervention” to avoid a similar situation to last year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, when hundreds of women reported being sexually assaulted near Cologne’s main train station. The majority of perpetrators were men of North African origin.

Critics from the Green and Left parties also objected to a December 31 police tweet, stating that controls of “Nafris” were underway at the city’s main train stations. The word is a derogatory term for North African men.

The tweet was “completely unacceptable,” Peter told Rheinische Post.

According to police, 25 cases of sexual assault were reported in Germany on New Year’s Eve this year, seven of them in Cologne.


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