German Open Border Activists Regret ‘Naive’ Decision To Help Refugees Integrate

REUTERS/Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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A left-wing club in Germany has made the “difficult” decision to end its integration efforts with refugees after sexual assaults turned women away.

Conne Island has been the cultural center for the alternative leftwing scene in the city of Leipzig since 1990. The club has always worked around the mission of hosting events “without sexist, homophobic, racist or other exclusions.”

Conne Island naturally welcomed new members of the community when hundreds of thousands of refugees arrived in Germany last fall. The club started to organize integration workshops such as language classes and skateboarding lessons for the refugees to help with the adjustment.

It was all fun and games until people stopped coming to the weekend parties.

Tanja Russack, Conne Island’s managing director, told Der Spiegel Wednesday that between 20 and 50 male refugees would show up to the parties and the average attendance of 500 people per night quickly started to decline. Complaints from women accusing the migrants of sexually assaulting them started to pile up.

The organizers realized that the trend couldn’t go on and decided to go public with the problem.

Conne Island released a public letter Oct. 7 titled “One step forward, two steps back.” The letter details the groups integration efforts, and how it was “quite a naive plan” in retrospect.

A key realization for Conne Island’s staff was that the “authoritarian and patriarchal socialization” in some of the migrants’ home countries didn’t blend well with German society.

“The strongly authoritarian and patriarchal socialization in some of the refugees’ countries of origin and the freedom of Western (party-)culture have created an explosive mix at our place,” the letter said.

Conne Island continues to feel sympathy with the refugees despite the controversies. The decision to go public was a “difficult” one, according to the management, because they “didn’t want to take the same racist line” as parties on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

“We do not distance ourselves from ‘Refugees Welcome’ politics,” Russack told Der Spiegel. “But integration is a lengthy process that can only work if we speak about the problems.”

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Tags : germany
Jacob Bojesson