The German city of Cologne witnessed perhaps its worst case of sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve. As people celebrated in the streets to ring in 2016, women were the victims of mass sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a group that included refugees.
The hideous crime shows the world still hasn't succeeded in making public spaces safe for women. But the danger from the assault is two-pronged, and far-reaching. Cologne hosts a sizable refugee population and although most of them are decent human beings, the incident sparked anti-refugee sentiment in the area.
Conservatives across the world especially point at the incident, arguing it explains why refugees have no place in the "civilized" world.
Fearing backlash, a Syrian refugee who found a home in Cologne decided to show the world that this one incident does not show what Syrian culture is, or what Syrians stand for.
He called on Syrian refugees settled in Germany, asking them to take a picture of themselves holding placards condemning the assault.
“I’m trying to give the right picture of my community,” Sakher said. “Some people told me, ‘You don’t need to apologize, this was not you.’ But when I find a problem, I have to say and do something — it’s inside of me.”
The refugee community, as Sakher asserted, does not want to start, or fight, another war.
Sakher also called for a protest against sexual assault outside the city’s cathedral, the spot of the assault.
Many handed out flowers to women to show that they respect them.