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Looking back on the Cologne violence

January 18th, 2016

Commentators unanimously agree in categorizing the sexual assaults by immigrants against women on New Year’s eve in Cologne as a turning point in the history of the latest mass immigration to Europe. Most interpret the scenes of violence as proof that the integration of the new arrivals will be significantly more difficult than German leaders originally thought.

In Szombat, poet Ádám Nádasdy thinks that it is fully legitimate to require immigrants to observe European rules once they choose to live here. “After all this is our Europe,” he exclaims. Europeans must be more tolerant, for instance they rightly allow Muslims to build mosques, but they don’t have to be infinitely patient. He is not happy about the new security measures European governments will probably introduce in order to keep violence under control, but says he has resigned himself to accept them.

In HVG, Györgyi Kocsis remarks that some of the fiercest critics of the barbaric behaviour of the thousand immigrants who went on the rampage in Cologne are curiously disengaged on the subject of the treatment of women at home or in their workplaces. Meanwhile, she hopes the horrific night in Cologne will produce positive results for women in Europe as a whole, because apparently “xenophobia has taken the upper hand over misogyny.” Perhaps a broad consensus will emerge in Europe, including Hungary, about the equality of the sexes.

In the print version of HVG, László Seres explains what happened with reference to the war-torn societies many migrants came from, and the practice of forced marriage and the subjugation of women there, even in peacetime. After what happened in Cologne, he continues, at least public discourse over these issues will become possible and taboos will be eliminated. Swift retaliation and the expulsion of the perpetrators will not suffice. The authorities must insist on the swift integration of immigrants. This includes learning the local languages and accepting Western liberties and laws. He warns that if European governments fail in this task, then it will be the far right’s turn “to employ very different methods.”

On Mandiner,  Gellért Rajcsányi believes that Europe has been unsuccessful both in introducing multicultural societies and in integrating immigrants lately. He castigates liberal elites for believing that a few integration courses can solve the problem, as real integration doesn’t equal passing an exam on the basic facts of European history and human rights, or learning the names of the regions of Germany.  Accomplished integration practically requires a change of personality, which he suggests is a nigh impossible job when immigrants come in large numbers.

In his weekly Heti Válasz editorial, Gábor Borókai contends that it would be unimaginable in Hungary for such an event as the night of the Cologne sexual assault to be absent from the nationwide press for several days. Without being ordered to do so, German public and commercial media outlets kept silent of their own free will for days on end about such an unprecedented series of events, because they kept true to what he calls ‘the Bible of political correctness’. And according to that script, he claims, it was simply unimaginable for crowds of ‘helpless and gentle’ migrants to sexually assault and rob hundreds of women in the country that is so generously hosting them. After this extraordinary example of disciplined self-censorship, Bórókai notes bitterly, “we await new lectures on media independence, pluralism and freedom  from American, German and Swedish lecturers.”

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