Cologne police set off a storm of controversy when they tweeted that hundreds of “Nafris” – North Africans – were stopped during New Year’s Eve celebrations. But a new report paints a different picture.
Cologne’s police force said on Friday that in fact, most of the more than 650 men stopped by officers on New Year’s were from Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, and only a small portion came from North Africa.
Their original report after New Year’s Eve was that most were from North Africa.
Police clarified on Friday that there were around 2,000 “young men who appeared to be North African or Arabic” who arrived at either the central city train station, or the Deutz station. Officers made a total of 2,500 checks, though many people were checked more than once.
In total, police investigated the identities of 674 people, and of this group, officers could determine the nationalities of 425 people. The largest group of people came from Iraq (99), followed by Syria (94), and Afghanistan (48). Another 46 were Germans, while 17 were Moroccan and 13 were Algerian. The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reported that there was also one Tunisian identified.
Police were accused of racially profiling North African men after New Year’s Eve 2015-16 celebrations, during which hundreds of women reported being sexually assaulted or robbed, and most of the suspects came from North Africa.
The police force tweeted during this year’s celebrations that they were checking hundreds of “Nafris” – a term short for North Africans which critics saw as derogatory. The tweet set off a heated discussion about racial profiling.
A leading Green party politician as well as Amnesty International condemned the police force’s methods, with Amnesty International calling racial profiling a “violation of human rights”.
Cologne police chief Jürgen Mathies conceded that the word Nafri should not have been used for external communications, but police also said that the men stopped had already been seen as likely criminals.