German immigration policy under fire after gang-rape of young woman in Freiburg

German immigration policy under fire after gang-rape of young woman in Freiburg
German police have arrested eight people, including seven Syrian refugees and a German citizen, over their suspected involvement in a group sexual assault on a 18-year-old woman in the city of Freiburg.

The incident took place on the night of October 14 but the police only issued a detailed report on the matter after all major suspects were detained. The victim, whose identity has not been revealed, attended a disco party at one of the local clubs, where she became acquainted with a Syrian asylum seeker, the police said in a statement.

He bought her a drink and the pair then left the club together, the statement adds. The man is alleged to have then dragged the woman into nearby bushes and raped her. The perpetrator then left his victim in the bushes and returned to the club to "call his friends," the German Bild daily reports.

The woman was subsequently raped by at least seven other men. According to police, the victim could not resist the assaults and was left "completely defenseless" as she was allegedly "intoxicated" by an unknown substance. German media reported that the drink the Syrian bought her might have contained "knockout drops" or some drugs.

The woman survived the encounter and filed a complaint to the police the next day. In the two weeks following the assault, officers detained seven Syrian nationals, who "were mostly living in the refugee shelters" in and around Freiburg, as well as a German citizen. The investigators also said that they "cannot rule out that other persons were involved" in the incident.

The Syrian suspects are between 19- and 29-years old, while the German is 25, the police said, providing no further details of the suspects' identities. "Almost all the… suspects have been previously known to police," the statement said, without revealing the exact nature of their previous misdemeanors.

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The incident has once again fueled anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany, which has accepted more than a million refugees and asylum seekers since the 2015 refugee crisis, sparking resentment among some parts of the population. 

"It is apparently a sheer coincidence that the particularly multicultural Freiburg hits the headlines again and again because of the particularly brutal sex crimes," one person sarcastically wrote on Twitter. It is indeed not the first such incident in the western German city. Back in 2016, Freiburg was shocked by the death of Maria Ladenburger, a 19-year-old medical student, who was raped and drowned by an Afghan asylum seeker.

Other people were seemingly shocked by the brazenness of the crime. "A [rapist] would 'usually' quickly sneak away [being] ashamed of the rape. But this Syrian had also called his buddies. Who could even understand that?" another person wrote in a tweet.

Some also blamed the German authorities for the incident. "All detainees were known to police because of earlier crimes. Why are they still in our country?" a person asked rhetorically. "This rape could have been prevented. The accomplices sit in the Bundestag!" another man wrote in an apparent attack on Germany's asylum and immigration policies. 

The German media also received its share of criticism over what some described as inadequate coverage of the incident. "No, Tagesschau, that is not how it works today. [You] dedicated only a small note to the rape in Freiburg but issued a minutes-long video report about some 'trumpets in rental apartments.' Intention? Importance? In such a way, the media like you unfortunately provide a distorted picture," a person wrote on Twitter, referring to a news show aired by the German public broadcaster, ARD. 

The German anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party also rushed to condemn the incident and promote some of its ideas. "What else should actually happen in our country before it will be acknowledged that multiculturalism is not something that is right? All the perpetrators were known to police… but roam free and gang-rape a defenseless woman," the Bavarian branch of the right-wing party tweeted.

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