Migrant girls targeted in two Berlin assaults

Germany has been deeply polarized by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to open the country’s borders to those fleeing conflict and persecution at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis. (file photo: AFP)
Updated 10 February 2019

Migrant girls targeted in two Berlin assaults

  • An unknown man repeatedly punched two Syrian girls, aged 15 and 16, in the face in Berlin’s eastern Marzahn district

BERLIN: Police in Berlin on Sunday were investigating two separate assaults against young girls believed to have been motived by anti-migrant hatred.
An unknown man repeatedly punched two Syrian girls, aged 15 and 16, in the face in Berlin’s eastern Marzahn district late Friday afternoon, before running away. Both girls were briefly treated in hospital for their injuries.
According to a police statement, the man allegedly “insulted both girls with anti-foreigner comments” before attacking them.
In a second incident in the capital’s Neukoelln area on Friday evening, an unidentified woman allegedly tried to pull the headscarf off a 12-year-old girl, pulling her hair while voicing xenophobic sentiments, Berlin police said.
The woman also allegedly threatened the girl with pepper spray “and tried several times to stab her with a syringe that appeared filled with blood,” according to the statement.
The woman managed to abscond before police arrived on the scene.
Germany has been deeply polarized by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to open the country’s borders to those fleeing conflict and persecution at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis.
Since then, the influx of over a million asylum seekers — mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — has fueled the rise of the far-right, anti-Islam AfD party. High-profile crimes involving migrants have sparked angry protests in recent years.
A 50-year-old German man was last month charged with attempted murder after he drove his car into groups of foreigners in the cities of Bottrop and Essen.
Eight people were injured in the rampage, including a 4-year-old Afghan boy and his mother as well as a 10-year-old Syrian girl.


Japan weighing visit by Iran’s President Rouhani

Updated 09 December 2019

Japan weighing visit by Iran’s President Rouhani

  • Japan has been trying to forge a possible mediator role as tensions rise between its ally US and Iran
  • If the trip is confirmed, Rouhani would become the first Iranian president to visit Japan since 2000

TOKYO: Japan is weighing inviting Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for a state visit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday, as local media reported the trip was likely to happen this month.
Japan has been trying to forge a possible mediator role as tensions rise between its ally Washington and Tehran.
Local media has reported in recent days that Rouhani is likely to visit Tokyo around December 20, with some reports saying Washington has green-lighted the trip.
“A visit by President Rouhani to Japan is now under consideration,” Abe said at a press conference marking the end of the year’s parliamentary session.
“Japan, which has an alliance with the US and at the same time has maintained favorable relations with Iran for a long time, must forge its own path,” he said.
“I want to make diplomatic efforts as much as possible to help ease tensions and stabilize the situation in the region by continuing dialogue patiently,” he added.
If the trip is confirmed, Rouhani would become the first Iranian president to visit Japan since 2000.
Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship despite recent regional turmoil, with resource-poor Japan heavily reliant on imports of oil from the Middle East.
Abe traveled to Iran in June and met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as Rouhani. He met Rouhani again in New York during this year’s UN General Assembly.
The proposed visit comes as tensions remain high between Tehran and Washington, despite a prisoner swap last week.
On Sunday, Rouhani announced a “budget of resistance” against US sanctions targeting the country’s vital oil sector.
US President Donald Trump began imposing punitive measures in May 2018, after unilaterally withdrawing from an accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program.