News / Europe

    Cologne Attacks Boost Immigrant Foes in Germany

    German Anti-Immigrant Parties Benefit After Cologne NYE Attacksi
    X
    January 26, 2016 10:42 PM
    Polls show support for anti-immigrant political parties in Germany has risen since the hundreds of attacks on women in Cologne, apparently by groups of migrants. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell reports from the city on the wider impact on the debate over migration in Germany.
    Henry Ridgwell

    In Germany, polls show support for anti-immigrant political parties have risen since the hundreds of attacks on women in Cologne, apparently by groups of migrants.

    Sitting in a Cologne café, former English teacher Basheer Alzaalan scrolls through photos on his phone of his escape from Syria. He says Germany has offered sanctuary, and the attacks on New Year’s Eve filled him with anger.
     
    “Germany for the Syrians was some kind of mother, and at the head of that, [Chancellor] Angela Merkel. I had fears after the incidents in Cologne," he admitted. "But after then I felt that the people just understand, they do not have that kind of strategy that depends on action and reaction.”
     
    Alzaalan wrote newspaper articles apologizing for the attacks on behalf of migrants, and imploring locals not to blame all refugees.

    Syrian refugee Basheer Alzaalan on his journey to Germany via Turkey, Greece and Eastern Europe. (Photo courtesy B. Alzaalan)
    Syrian refugee Basheer Alzaalan on his journey to Germany via Turkey, Greece and Eastern Europe. (Photo courtesy B. Alzaalan)

    Consequences

    But the attacks have had political consequences. One poll showed support for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany Party has risen to an all-time high of 11.5 percent - putting it in third place.
     
    Hendrik Rottman, head of the party’s Cologne branch, says that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s "open door" philosophy has ensured that Germany has an unbelievable amount of migration and asylum seekers, of which some are refugees. But he says a large portion are unregistered, so no one knows what they are doing here.
     
    Of the 1.1 million migrants who came to Germany in 2015, 10,000 have settled in Cologne. The attacks have prompted some to question if so many newcomers can be integrated. Others claim the differing cultures cannot be mixed.

    Cologne authorities insist it can be done.

    Migrants hold flowers behind the fence of a refugee home in Cologne, Germany, Jan. 22, 2016.
    Migrants hold flowers behind the fence of a refugee home in Cologne, Germany, Jan. 22, 2016.

    Employment opportunities

    Gregor Timmer, spokesman for the mayor says the vast majority of the refugees want to start a new life and integrate peacefully. That is a lot of work for Germans, he says, such as language courses, integration courses, and finding jobs. This is all relatively new, he adds.
     
    Early next month, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line Cologne’s streets for the annual carnival. Groups of people are already out in costume.
     
    One woman dressed in a pirate outfit says people in Cologne know more migrants are coming and are approaching it positively. But she says Germans are not going to let them "take away our fun, this is our culture," she adds.
     
    Security is being heavily stepped up for the carnival. Cologne’s authorities are aware any further attacks like those on New Year’s Eve would have an impact far beyond the city’s streets.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora