My fourth year living in Bonn started on 31st December 2015. While I was on holiday in Sicily, something outrageously terrible occurred in Cologne: attacks, pickpocketing, and violence in general. Mainly on women but not only. I’m not a journalist and I do not intend to mimic those who are, therefore, far be it from me to try and put together a more or less realistic picture of the events (we’ll never actually know what happened.)
Nevertheless, the psychological and practical consequences of these sad events are surely interesting. Believing that several locations in Germany simultaneously turned in circles of hell with “young men with Arabic features” verbally, physically and sexually assaulting an abnormally high number of women is interesting indeed. Furthermore, this number has grown out of proportion in the following days when – inexplicably late considering German efficiency – the facts were disclosed to the public, a public eager for scandals.
First, the clear and undisputable reassuring statement of the head of Cologne’s police saying that there was absolutely no link between the assaults, the Arabic features of the aggressors (?!) and the thousands of asylum seekers on site. As we breathed a sigh of relief, new information were revealed raising doubts: well, maybe some were refugees, actually more than some…I suppose many. Almost all, actually. There were only a few white men (natives and non-natives) that maybe drunk too much…That’s all. Those with Arabic features were responsible for the attacks. And there was chaos. DER SPIEGEL spoke about this odd strategy based on reassuring statements, retractions, innuendos and doubts.
And that’s when I put together the last pieces of my very personal interpretation of the events. It’s very hard to believe that hundreds, thousands of “Arabs” – avoiding all controls – coordinated attacks on “our” emancipated, independent women, different from repressed Muslim women. At this point, all over the planet – especially in Italy – the clubs that after tens of years of pseudo-revolution were buried in the basements were dug up giving way to a war against the Muslims who don’t know how to respect women nor accept “our” women’s freedom. And that’s when I stopped listening and I started looking.
Photo Copyright: Francesco Faraci
Cologne was under siege. I went to meet a friend in the central station on 14th January and I thought I was in a 70’s movie on some sort of South-American dictatorship. Hardly anyone around, groups of six police officers on every corner randomly stopping people, ten police vans in the square directly in front of the station and six more outside the Cathedral. More police cars in alleys and streets. They were everywhere. Basically, not a nice atmosphere. Since then, then number of police officers subtly increased everywhere and, along with it, a sense of fear and general uncertainty.
These are the key points: fear and uncertainty. These are the best weapons to silence, enslave, repress and lead us to (un)consciously and happily give up our most precious freedom in the name of a supposed security, kindly offered by armed men.
Germany adopted me and anyone who dares criticising it in my presence barks up at the wrong tree, end of. I absolutely love this Country: this is where I have learnt what it means to be economically and physically free. I did things that I would have never done in Italy such as, travelling, going to gigs and festivals. Always on my own. I have learnt German on trains and in airports talking to chatty Teutonic elders who really do not care if you can speak their language because they really want to tell you about their holiday in Italy, I’ve learnt it visiting museums, asking for information, at work, thanks to my customers’ patience and persistence. I’ve learnt German travelling with a sense of security that helped me to spread my wings – emotionally speaking – and visit amazing places. Germany touched my heart when it refused to associate Islam with terrorism after Charlie Hebdo attacks, when Chancellor Merkel said, “Islam belongs to Germany.” Germany gave me hope through the images of Munich central station filled with families and German kids that – with signs and toys – welcomed families and children escaping certain death. I personally took part in initiatives to welcome the newcomers and I have seen, with my own eyes, German families with their kids arrive at the welcome centres with cakes and presents.
So, I really struggle understanding what happened. I keep quiet and observe and worry about this slippery slope we are getting onto.
Personally, I identify myself with Cologne’s female activists who sharply replied, “Assholes are assholes everywhere” and “Feminism is anti-racism.” And I wonder, how do I look? Do I look Arabic? Do I look almost Aryan even if my curly hair betray me? I’m not sure…When you speak about “our” women, who are you talking about? Because I belong to myself and that’s how is going to be until I die. I certainly do not belong to a man. When you speak about “protecting our women”, can you kindly explain, exactly from what? We understood from whom: Arabic features, Muslims, the Quran and your misconceptions.
Let me tell you – since I do not live in the jungle and I can easily find food in supermarkets without having to hunt – the first thing that would scare me while I walk in the street at night is meeting one of these gentlemen who wants to protect me or someone who wants to rape or hurt me. And I can assure you that the colour of his skin, his religion, his origins would be absolutely irrelevant. So, rather than protecting us, just learn how to respect us.
Translator Francesca Colantuoni
Italian text by Maria Grazia Patania