Picture: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images
Picture: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

Fliers written on behalf of Syrian refugees are being handed out in Cologne, condemning the New Year’s Eve attacks in the city.

More than 500 criminal complaints were filed for the night, 40 per cent of which alleged sexual assault.

Nineteen suspects are currently under investigation by German police in connection with the attacks, 14 of which are from Morocco and Algeria and ten of which are asylum seekers.

An American man was given a leaflet in a cafeteria at the University of Cologne, who shared an image of it on Facebook.

I was handed this flyer by a man of, as they say, Middle Eastern appearance at the entrance to the University cafeteria...

Posted by Mordecai-Mark Mac Low on Monday, 11 January 2016

The letter reads:

We, men from Syria, condemn in the strongest possible terms abuse against women and the attack and robberies on New Year’s Eve.
We regret that women were injured, physically and in their honour, we hope that they will recover well and soon from these attacks.
We hope that the perpetrators of these criminal acts will be found and punished.
Our cultural values were trampled by these crimes. Those values include respect for women and men, respect for bodily integrity, and respect for personal property.
We Syrians have come to Germany as refugees, because we want to live freely in this democratic society. We want to shape, to speak, and to live democracy.
We regret that the acts on New Year’s Eve have brought our group — a group of Syrians, a group of refugees and of other Arab or North African people — and our culture into disrepute.
We’ve fled an inhuman war, in order save our lives and our ability to remain human. We want peace and security and the opportunity to provide for our families through work.
We thank all the people in Germany, both women and men, for all of the help they have so far offered us.
We want to show ourselves worthy of your help. We remain united: Your values are our values.
Germany has done more for us than any other European or Arab country!

The leaflet is attributed to "Syrian Men for Fairness", which is run by a man called Shady Chaaban, who was distributing the leaflets outside Cologne station on Monday.

Mordecai-Mark Mac Low told i100 that he was going to the cafeteria for lunch with colleagues at the University of Cologne, when he saw some men handing out fliers:

At first I thought they were advertising some student group, so I passed them by, but then I noticed the first few lines of the flier and went back to pick up a copy of the flier.

I thought that it was interesting that some refugees had taken the initiative to make a public response. In some way, this is already a hesitant first step towards integration into the German society that has provided such a generous welcome to them.

When asked what he thought of the mood in Cologne and the government’s refugee police, Mordecai told i100 he was:

Concerned, but confident. There was no visible sign of nervousness in the busy train station itself, and my feeling is that this is in many ways seen as a failure of the police force to plan its actions during the night.

Mordecai pointed to Germany's history and "experiences with displacement", both in World War II and afterwards.

They have an ongoing tradition of offering asylum that was already evident during the Balkan wars, one that I think they can be justly proud of in an international context.

YouGov research finds that German attitudes hostile to greater numbers of asylum seekers have reached their peak.

Currently 62 per cent say that the number of asylum seekers in the country is too high, nine per cent higher than in November 2015 and 20 per cent higher than in July 2015.

(H/TBuzzfeed News)

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