Cologne sex assaults: Muslim rape myths fit a neo-Nazi agenda

One newspaper said the EU referendum was about the safety and security of British women

Dark myths about sexual assaults in Cologne came into sharp focus last week when a female television journalist was attacked live on air. Esmeralda Labye, a reporter from Belgium, was covering the German city’s annual carnival when three men variously touched her breasts, kissed her and simulated intercourse behind her back. 

It followed claims of multiple sex crimes on women around the city’s station on New Year’s Eve, when refugees were blamed. This allowed conspiracy theorists to outline their most starkly racist fantasies, painting a picture of demonic brown-skinned Muslims fleeing war zones to defile white European womanhood. No need for court cases: marauding savages had planned everything on the Internet and were all guilty without trial.  




This time, however, Labye’s cameraman captured the absolute truth: footage shows white European males from overwhelmingly Christian Germany molesting her. Cologne was full of Caucasian drunks acting with the same kind of macho abandon which contributes to some half a million adults being sexually assaulted in England and Wales alone each year. 

After the events of New Year’s Eve, one commentator specifically cited uneducated “youths from Afghanistan and Syria” as the culprits, expanding the global threat to one posed by “several hundred thousand young Muslim males”. More ambitiously still, the whole Cologne affair was linked to Brexit, as we were told by one newspaper: “The EU referendum is about nothing less than the safety and security of British women – and that means we must get out of Europe.”

On Friday, the Cologne prosecutor Ulrich Bremer in fact told me that, of the 59 suspects pinpointed so far, just four are from war-torn countries (Syria and Iraq), only 14 are in custody, and nobody has yet been charged. Nearly 600 hours of CCTV reveals very little, and there is no evidence whatsoever that the alleged attacks were planned in advance.

The refugee-as-rapist construct is the kind that has been used to demonise people throughout history. The idea is that you apply frightening characteristics to those you view as political enemies. In the 1930s Cologne’s Jews were described as 'Untermenschen' (inferior people) menacing European culture, before 11,000 were murdered during the Nazi Holocaust by “racially pure” Aryans, many of them beer-swilling Christians.  

Merging racism into a wider discussion about law and order, feminism and even the future of the EU project does not make it any less objectionable. Brown men are not inherently more misogynistic or brutal than white men, and Muslims are just as likely to be family-orientated, peaceful citizens as their counterparts from other religious and cultural heritages. 

Neo-Nazi groups such as Germany’s Pegida – an organisation becoming increasingly active in Britain – instead jump on the propaganda, using sacred half-truths about Cologne to spread hatred and violence. In their world, victims like Labye – white and blonde-haired – mean nothing if they are not prepared to scapegoat and lie in the cause of protecting European “civilisation” from the dark invaders.