CBC Forum: After Cologne attacks, what's the future of integration in Europe?

Authorities in Germany have made their first arrest in relation to a string of sexual assaults in Cologne during New Year's celebrations that sparked a debate about integration in Europe. What does the future hold? And what is the path forward?

  • Welcome to CBC Forum, a live, hosted discussion where readers can talk about stories of national and international interest and the issues that arise from them.

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  • Hi, everyone. Welcome to our second CBC Forum, our new attempt to encourage a different kind of conversation on our website.
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  • Our first CBC Forum, this morning, was about the murky waters of digital property after death. 

    CBC Forum: What happens to passwords when you die

    The ownership of digital property after death a murky issue, says estate lawyer Daniel Nelson. Our Go Public story about a widow who went to Apple to get her dead husband's password has raised many questions.

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  • This afternoon's topic gives us a chance to discuss a topic we wouldn't normally open comments under. CBC policy is to close comments on stories about sexual assaults to protect the identity of the victims.
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  • Here's today's latest story:

    1st arrest made in Cologne sexual assaults

    Cologne prosecutors said Monday that an unidentified asylum-seeker has been arrested on suspicion of committing a sexual assault in Cologne during New Year's celebrations that saw 497 women come forward saying they had been assaulted.

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  • And here's a column by Don Murray from last week, pondering the mounting backlash against refugees.

    Lost in the shouting was the fact that almost all of those arrested or identified after the attacks of New Year's Eve were not from Syria and not refugees.

    Most were from Morocco and Algeria. Many had been in Germany for years, using false identity papers. The German authorities didn't talk about them, let alone deport them.

    But that, for the politicians, was an unimportant detail.


    Don Murray: After Cologne, is Germany's refugee experiment kaput?

    The assaults on German women in Cologne on New Year's Eve, incidents being blamed largely on foreigners, has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiment right across the Continent, Don Murray writes. Once-extreme views are now heard even in high office.

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  • Integration? Good grief, the Europeans themselves can't get their collective act together as a "common unit" and they point their fingers at everybody else?oskar576at 4:56 PM

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  • This submission was very long, so I've trimmed it. Try to keep submissions to three or four paragraphs so they don't dominate the page.

    A crime is a crime, regardless of a person’s religious beliefs. When thousands of Catholic priests rape young boys, does this mean that they are all like that, just because many do it? No! Good and evil folk come from all nationalities, all colors, all religions, and all statuses in society.

    I was in Qatar during the war of Bosnia (1992-1995). 20,000 to 50,000 Muslim women were raped by the Serbs during that war and for the first time in history we heard about the ‘rape camps’. The Arab media didn’t link Christianity and Christians to rape!...

    Islam doesn’t need a lecture on women’s rights. As a follower of Islam myself, I believe that “Women are the twin halves of men” and that a Muslim should NOT “beat his wife and then have intercourse with her at the end of the day" ( Prophet Muhammad). 
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  • I live in Cologne and have a front row seat to the events that have taken place here. Two things are consistently underreported in the media analysis of the recent attacks.

    First, Germany has many, many badly assimilated immigrants from previous waves of immigration. They don't seem very skilled at facilitating assimilation and fostering trust. They are helpful but not empathetic. Second, I the migrants--mostly, if not entirely young and male, at least here--do not obey laws. They do not seem to understand what constitutes a breach of the law, and do seem quite threatening. I don't know how this will turn out, but Canada is much better than Germany is at fostering trust between new immigrants and the state. I hope they can learn fast, since everyone here is too nice to let this fail.CdnInKolnat 5:25 PM

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  • If a culture and/or a religion declares women to be second class beings, restricts their rights and segregates them visually, what are the chances for integrating that specific culture/religion in a society where gender equality is a fundamental right guaranteed by law?refractionat 5:41 PM

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  • Integration isn't going to happen.

    Polling data of Muslim populations in Europe from the Pew Centre and others reveals this fact again and again and again. The polling results are frightening in terms of the mainstream attitudes which run against European and canadian values alike. Please post the Pew Centre polling results.
    Support for Sharia Law, violence for those who criticize this religion, execution for those who leave Islam..its all there folks.

    www.pewforum.org
    hitchensat 5:55 PM

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  • Hitchens, what would you say about Muslims who are successful parts of Canadian society? Is it different here? (e.g. the mayor of Calgary, our minister of Democratic Institutions, and the fourth-leading scorer for the Toronto Maple Leafs.)
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  • The discussion is polarized between those who hate all adherents of Islam and those who refuse to acknowledge any of the problems. The fact is that Muslims are a growing segment of the world's population and that the rest of us need to find ways of constructive engagement without capitulation of our own values. Name calling by either extreme does not serve the purposePaulat 6:04 PM

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  • Muslims have been integrating into society in North America and Europe for a hundred years. The religion is not the problem. The problem is the People.
    There are good and bad from every race and religion. If a country cannot have proper record keeping of it's citizen's then we should not be accepting people from that country, period. If you cannot do a record search on someone to see if they have a previous criminal record or if the records kept by a country are suspect, they should not be allowed into our country.
    I have to have a record search to visit some countries, and know of people that go through hoops with all the paper work required to come here. So, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.whowhatat 6:06 PM

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  • Your comment is the first one I published. 
    Ah well. Not much point expressing an opinion that is outside the "acceptable" parameters even though there was no racism, bigotry or bias against anyone. It would seem that questioning politicians' motives is verboten.oskar576at 6:11 PM

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  • In response to a question about Muslims such as Naheed Nenshi, Maryam Monsef, and Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri:
    Successful integration isn't showing up in the polling data in Europe. Thats putting it mildly. Putting on a Maple Leafs jersey doesn't indicate anything. The more important matters in terms of attitudes towards laws, homosexuals, non-believers, punishment for those who leave Islam, support for freedom of speech, support for Islamic extremism (including ISIS) is more important than someone who wears a hockey jersey. These are the questions our media and politicians are reluctant to ask. I lived in the Middle East btw so I know something about what I am talking about.hitchensat 6:10 PM

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  • Here in Germany, Merkel has made a fundamental mistake with her open door policy. Cover ups and mismanaged media reports create confusion around the world with regards to the refugee crisis. Failure to report who the refugees actually are seems to be the norm right now. Mostly healthy males who are not in any real need of asylum have arrived because they seek a better economic situation. Lack of security checks and verification make for a dangerous time in Germany right now. I only speak to Germans about myself having migrated from Canada to Germany to be with my wife. The situation has to change. Where are the women and children? The true refugees. Quite simply they were left behind and those women and children who do arrive safely in Europe do so with great difficulty and hardship. Get these healthy single males out and back to fight for their country and bring in the women, children, elderly, and disabled. These are the ones that we can't expect to fight or defend themselves. These are the refugees that need our help.Deputy-Dat 6:16 PM

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  • Free moderator's tip: If your comment implies that all 1.6 billion Muslims are identical in belief and/or action, it will not be approved.
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  • Because I was tired of the "It's the people not the religion" debate, I downloaded a free translated version of the Qur'an to my kindle and spent a few hours reading a few dozen surahs (chapters), This is not a religion of peace, tolerance and exception so let's stop pretending it is.WebChildat 6:18 PM

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  • WebChild, can the same argument not be made of the Bible? 
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  • Given that we are already having trouble integrating the immigrants from the region in smaller numbers, it isn't surprising at all to see it going poorly in the massive numbers Germany is importing. The two cultures are extremely different, one is a theocratic and extremely conservative life, the other is a very secular and comparatively liberal life. It doesn't take too much guessing to figure out why the 2 groups don't fit well together.Icedmanat 6:20 PM

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  • A country must first and foremost care about its citizens. Resources are limited, so there's no possible way to care for everyone equally. Thus, the country's own citizens must be prioritized. Foreigners come second. If a country is to accept immigrants, it is doing so because it could possibly be beneficial to the country in some way, like increasing human capital. If a country is compassionate enough to accept refugees, it must do so in a way that does not jeopardize its own citizens. If it is the case that these foreigners, immigrants and refugees, are causing problems and are not able to become a proper citizen of the country, justice must be served to protect the country's own citizens. If it is the case that far too many foreigners are causing problems, then one acceptable method to decrease the intake of foreigners. Perhaps there are other solutions. One solution, however, is not to deprive the citizens of their own safety or wealth in order to attempt to "fix" the foreigners. Prioritization would be backwards. Imagine inviting a guest to your house and he or she turns out to be rude and troubling. If attempts to make the guest behave turn out fruitless, he must be made to leave. The inhabitants of your house would be greatly troubled if you were to continue to let this guest misbehave in it.Nepgearat 6:24 PM

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  • Why do countries need to have such large amounts of immigrants in general? It is to appease all the corporations that only care about growth and the bottom line? Most would not be welcome as immigrants in Middle East and North African Muslim countries so why do we welcome them here? And don't tell me that it's because we are Canadians and that's what our country does to try and impress on the world stage. We are merely a small player.Johnpolitico at 6:26 PM

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  • My issue is not with people, it's their ideologies that I question. Calling someone a racist because they don't agree with a groups religious beliefs is idiotic. Beliefs are not a race. I'm not a religious person, so when there is a book out there that says I should be put to death you can bet I'm going to take issue with that. If you look at any country that Islam has large numbers it's clear they have no desire to integrate. If people want to come to Canada to work hard and be happy, that's great. But when someone comes here and tells us they want their own religious laws and special laws to shield them from criticism, that's not integration. Everyone should have equal rights and the right to debate differing points of view. Giving one group special treatment over everyone else is disgusting and has no place in a Democratic society. I believe in live and let live, that's all I ask from others.333_stuat 6:29 PM


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  • This was the story that popped to mind when I asked about the Bible earlier. 

    Pranksters disguise the Bible as a Qur'an, film people reacting to quotes

    A YouTube "prank" video is illustrating once again this week that you simply can't judge a book by its cover. Not even a holy book, it seems.

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  • All this talk of 'Islam" as a monolithic religion ignores the realities of the real problem. Whether it is terrorism, or misogyny or reactionary approaches to modernity - the problem lies with very specific sects of Islam - Wahabbism and Salafism. Almost all terrorists "Islamic" roots can be traced to extreme interpretations rooted in these subsets of Islam. Where Wahabbism and Salafism take hold- these problem can often follow. This is not to generalize that every adherent of these sects is a potential terrorist or problem, however, we must recognize where these threats are originating. Amadi Muslims, Ismali Muslims and others are progressive, education minded person who hold Islamic beliefs - but are held as 'apostates' in many modern Islamic states.almasyat 6:34 PM

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  • This is much more of an issue than Muslims entering Europe in record numbers. This has everything to do with tyrannical governments and religious persecution. Why do we continue to watch helplessly as children flee and die trying to escape the country they call home?
    "Be the change you want to see in the world"Jason Wat 6:35 PM

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  • The problem that exists with the immigration crisis cannot be solved by allowing uncontrolled access to other countries by those who are trying to get away from former lives and the dangers of war. The answer must be to solve the insane things that are happening in the Middle East. When you see how some of the immigrants are dressed, and the possessions they seem to have, one wonders if they are truly refugees from war torn lands or economic migrants who, because of access to existing technologies, are just looking to get what they can by moving Europe cannot possibly absorb the numbers who are "storming their " borders. It is physically and culturally impossible, and we are going to see a serious backlash.harryat 6:39 PM

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  • This story by CBC's Zach Dubinsky from last September looks at the issue of whether all the refugees are destitute - or need to be. 

    Smartphones are a lifeline, not a toy, for Syrian refugees

    Some of the pictures of young refugees taking selfies on smartphones have raised eyebrows among certain skeptics. But these days, a smartphone is actually a lifeline for many asylum-seekers. Here's why.

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  • Gwynne Dyer had an interesting article recently, in which he compared the events in Cologne to his time in Turkey as a young man with his wife and children. At the time, Ankara was being overrun with villagers moving into the city and the locals bemoaned the poor behaviour of the young men from the villages that were accosting Western women. Gwynne's take on the matter was that these young men will soon learn that this behaviour is unacceptable and will not be accepted.Red Deerianat 6:43 PM

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  • I'd wager that this was an organised gang attack with the groping being used as a distraction to rob women and that the gang has been operating in Germany for years and the Syrians/refugees are convenient scapegoats for the politicians.oskar576at 5:23 PM

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  • And yet, here that forum sits.
    Its laughable that cbc would pretend to have a forum on anything that questions the ideology of islam or multiculti as they are completly bias andbone sided on both topics.Delme Evansat 6:51 PM

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  • Those who call refugees from countries experiencing civil war "economic refugees" should spend an hour in one of these worn torn cities. I guarantee you'll change your mind. How'd you like to go to work one day only to find you're business has been destroyed, bodies laying everywhere and it was you're own government that did it. Imagine what is happening in Syria, Ukraine or numerous African countries, happened in Canada?Jason Wat 6:55 PM

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  • These were horrific, sexually violent attacks. I believe these perpetrators would have attacked Muslim women or German women alike. They should be viewed as criminals & sexual offenders and "reintegrated" as any other sexual offender would be. I don't believe this rogue group of violent offenders represents the character of the millions of migrants that have escaped the horrors of their homeland. Rather they represent the very evil that migrants were trying to escape.Tweetybirdat 6:58 PM

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  • Unfortunately, that's the end of my shift.

    Look for another CBC Forum tomorrow morning.

    Thanks for participating. Hopefully you're enjoying the new format. 

    See you tomorrow!
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