Politics

German City Bans Muslim Men from Pools

Complaints of groping spur action in latest German culture clash

Public swimming pools have become the new flashpoint in Germany’s Islamic culture clash. A city on the banks of the Rhine is banning Muslim men from public swimming facilities after receiving complaints of groping, according to German news organizations.

The Local, an English language website in Germany, reported Friday that the town of Bornheim has banned male refugees who are older than 18 from using public pools. The website quoted a spokesman for the city of 46,000 as saying that six people filed complaints “over the sexually offensive behavior of some migrant men at the pool.”

The spokesman said the restriction is intended to make it “clear to the men that the rights of women in Germany are inviolable,” according to the website.

Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, quoted a city official as describing the policy as temporary. Markus Schnapka, head of Bornheim’s social welfare office, told the news organization the rights of women are sacrosanct. “Once our social workers tell us that they have got the message, we’ll terminate the measure,” he said.

The harassment complaints and the response of the Bonn suburb represent the latest collision of Muslim and Western values in this nation. It is having second thoughts about the open-door policy initiated last year by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to deal with the humanitarian crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.

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Last year, according to The Guardian in London, Germany took in 1.1 million migrants — mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The country has been rocked by widespread reports that migrants robbed, groped — and in some cases sexually assaulted — hundreds of German women during New Year’s celebrations in nearby Cologne and elsewhere.

Even Merkel has sought to reduce the flow of refugees amid plummeting approval ratings from German voters.

A poll commissioned this month by public television station ARD found that nearly half of German residents fear refugees. In addition, a survey by broadcaster ZDF indicated that 70 percent believe the flood of asylum-seekers will cause more crime. That is up from 62 percent in October.

Other municipal governments in Germany have taken steps to safeguard women at public pools, The Local reported. In the state of Bavaria, officials blanketed pool facilities with leaflets containing cartoons instructing people on proper behavior. The leaflets have been produced in French, Pashto, Somali and Arabic.

The sexual assaults in Cologne this month prompted the town of Rheinberg to cancel its annual Carnival parade, according to Deutsche Welle.

Meanwhile, the reports of sexual assault in Germany have stoked fears in the United States, where the Obama administration this month announced plans to follow through with its commitment to take an additional 10,000 refugees who are fleeing Syria. At Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, front-runner Donald Trump refused to back off his controversial proposal to temporarily halt Muslims from entering this country pending a review of procedures to assess the backgrounds of the arrivals.

A report last year by the Center for Immigration Studies also estimated that refugee families’ heavy use of welfare benefits means that the average cost of resettling a refugee is $64,370 per person over a five-year period.

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