Swedish attacks add to concern

January 13, 2016 6:31 am

 ’s National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson holds a press conference in Salen. Photo / AP

Police in Sweden have been accused of hushing up a series of sexual
assaults by asylum seekers at ’s largest teen pop festival, with
one senior officer saying police wanted to avoid “playing into the
hands” of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat Party.
The scandal, which followed the leak of an internal memo to the Dagens Nyheter
newspaper, is the latest in a ripple effect seen across Europe
following the sexual assaults allegedly carried out by asylum seekers in
the German city of Cologne at New Years.
The
DN said that from the very first day of We are Sthlm, a free festival
held last August for 13-19 year olds, police were aware of gangs of
young Afghan men surrounding and sexually harassing girls.

The 2014 event had seen a similar wave of assaults, the paper said.
In
an internal police memo seen by the newspaper, officers identified a
group of approximately 50 men, “so-called refugee youths, predominantly
from Afghanistan,” whom they suspected of being behind the attacks,
adding that “several of the gang were arrested for sexual harassment”.

Demonstrators protest against racism and sexism in the wake of the sexual assaults on New Year's Eve, outside the cathedral in Cologne, Germany. Photo / AP
Demonstrators protest against racism and
sexism in the wake of the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve, outside the
cathedral in Cologne, Germany. Photo / AP
Despite a record number of girls reporting crimes, police
made no mention of the phenomenon in the report on the festival posted
to their website, which said that there had been “relatively few crimes
and few arrests given the number of attendants”.
Sweden’s Prime
Minister called for an immediate inquiry into why no crimes were
prosecuted and whether police hushed up the assaults. Dan Eliasson,
Sweden’s national police commissioner, agreed that the offences were
“completely unacceptable” and launched an “immediate internal
investigation into any wrongdoing or crimes”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europe had lost control of the refugee crisis, as she confronts public anger.
“All
of a sudden we are facing the challenge that refugees are coming to
Europe and we are vulnerable, as we see, because we do not yet have the
order, the control that we would like to have.”
Authorities in
Cologne confirmed for the first time that the attacks were “almost
exclusively” carried out by men “of an immigrant background”. Police
have identified 19 suspects so far, including 10 who are in the country
as registered asylum seekers.

Right-wing demonstrators hold a sign 'Rapefugees not welcome - !Stay away!' and a sign with a crossed out mosque as they march in Cologne. Photo / AP
Right-wing demonstrators hold a sign
‘Rapefugees not welcome – !Stay away!’ and a sign with a crossed out
mosque as they march in Cologne. Photo / AP
There are growing fears of a backlash against immigrants
after 11 people were badly beaten in apparent revenge attacks in
Cologne. Rioting reportedly broke out among far-right protesters in
Leipzig, where a march by the city’s branch of the anti-Islam movement
Pegida was taking place.
“As disgusting as the crimes in Cologne
and other cities were, one thing is clear: there is no justification for
a general agitation against foreigners,” said Heiko Maas, the Justice
Minister. Some people “appear to have just been waiting for what
happened”.
Bild claimed that a suspected terrorist who was
shot dead trying to attack a Paris police station last week was
arrested almost two years ago for sexual assault in Cologne, groping
women in a night club.

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