If it had been a planned attack — though there is no evidence suggesting that’s the case — it would have been perfect. While the whole of Europe was preparing militarily and psychologically to prevent acts of terrorism, instead crimes of another sort erupted in the streets on New Year’s Eve in Germany — Cologne, Hamburg, Stuttgart — but also in Zurich and Helsinki.
A delinquent mass of men attacked any women they came across, beating them in the streets, wounding them, raping them, robbing them. Many of the men were of Arab or Muslim origin, possibly even asylum seekers, but there were also Western men, drunk, armed with bottles, knives, Molotov cocktails and brute force. The police were caught unaware and did not have the means to intervene. So useless were the authorities that in Hamburg, nightclub bouncers came to the rescue of women, whisking them inside to safety.
It is a very different attack from what happened in Paris, a comparison some in the media have made. Instead of attacking music venues, restaurants or the headquarters of a satirical newspaper — symbols of French secularism — it was the square, a meeting place of women who to them symbolize the enemy for supporters of a misogynist and patriarchal culture.