“German town bans male refugees from swimming pool,” The Guardian, January 14, 2016:
Bornheim, near Cologne, announces ban after reports women were harassed by men from asylum shelters, as ire towards migrants rises nationally
A western German town has barred adult male asylum seekers from its public indoor swimming pool after receiving complaints that some women were sexually harassed.
The measures in Bornheim, a town of 48,000 some 18 miles (30km) south of Cologne, are the latest sign of social tensions related to the arrival last year of 1.1 million migrants in Germany, followed by sexual assaults on women by young male migrants and asylum seekers during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne.
Germany has been good to us Syrians. I hope Cologne doesn’t change that
Bornheim’s deputy mayor said on Friday that a difficult decision was taken to send a clear message that breaching German cultural norms was a red line.
“There have been complaints of sexual harassment and chatting-up going on in this swimming pool … by groups of young men, and this has prompted some women to leave [the premises],” Markus Schnapka said.
“This led to my decision that adult males from our asylum shelters may not enter the swimming pool until further notice.”
He did not say how the ban would be enforced. German media say asylum seekers, who get no funds from the state, must present an identification document to be admitted to pools at a discounted rate.
Schnapka said his town had begun a campaign in local asylum seekers’ shelters to teach the occupants about gender equality and respect for women.
The gang attacks on women outside Cologne’s historic cathedral on the river Rhine deepened public doubts about Angela Merkel’s open-door policy towards refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and about Germany’s ability to integrate the mainly Muslim and Arab newcomers.
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Police investigations into the incidents of sexual molestation are focusing on 19 suspects, including 10 asylum seekers and nine illegal migrants thought to be from north Africa. Police said the suspects came from outside Cologne.
On Thursday, a carnival parade planned for 8 February in Rheinberg, a town north of Cologne, was cancelled after organisers said they would not be able to provide a security plan for the event on as required by police.
Merkel is now under increasing pressure to stem the flow of migrants coming to Germany. Several thousand continue to arrive every day and there has been a backlash by rightwing nationalist groups