A group of male refugees passed tulips out to German women to stand in solidarity with the victims assaulted throughout Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
“Today, we’re spreading flowers to express love and respect for people, for women, to show sympathy with the victims in Cologne and the horrible things that happened New Year’s Eve,” one of the men said in a Facebook video.
Over 170 women filed criminal complaints after being harassed outside of Cologne’s main train station. At least 120 of those complaints include sexual assault claims. Police officers identified 31 men in connection with the crimes. They originate from multiple countries throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, according to the New York Times. Officials found that 18 of the 31 men accused of the crimes are seeking asylum in Germany. The attacks cost Cologne's police chief his job and fueled tensions over Germany’s welcoming of refugees.
The refugee men giving tulips to strangers are refuting the depiction of refugees as criminals. One man held a sign that read, “The minority does not represent the whole community.” Another told the Berliner Morgenpost, a German newspaper, that there’s 1.1 million refugees in Germany because it’s the only country that welcomed them.
The Berliner Morgenpost posted the video of the refugee men passing out flowers to Facebook, where it has garnered more than 3 million views.
The men promoted the idea that refugees share in the national outrage over the “criminal and savage” New Year’s Eve attacks. “We, as the refugees, don’t accept these kinds of acts,” one man said.