"Someone reported us as illegal refugees" – police called on hiking club mistaken for asylum seekers

Sunset hiking
The hiking group included an award winning journalist from Reuters news agency (Image credit: molchanovdmitry)

It's no secret that the outdoors space often lacks diversity, but while seeing hikers of color might cause some to take a second look, it doesn't typically merit a call to the police – until now, that is.

Things took an unpleasant turn for a group of seasoned hikers enjoying a walking holiday in Germany last week when they discovered their wholesome activities had been reported to the authorities as illegal.

Journalist Riham Alkousaa wrote on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that she was out with a registered hiking club in Saxony Switzerland, a popular hiking spot in eastern Germany. When they returned to their hostel, they found the police waiting for them.

"Someone called police that a group of foreigners was seen and reported as illegal refugees!"

The BBC reports that a caller reported the group as refugees who were suspected of trying to cross the border from nearby Czechia illegally. Germany recently introduced stricter border controls with the Czech Republic after seeing first-time asylum requests rise by 78 percent in the first seven months of 2023, according to Reuters.

Alkousaa is a Syrian-born German citizen, and explains in the comments section of her post that all other members of the groups are students or professionals working in Germany legally, which the police verified before ending their investigation. The following day, she seemed undeterred by the unnerving incident, posting a picture of herself on the trail again with the comment, "still hiking, we will keep going!"

According to her LinkedIn profile, she is a multi award-winning journalist and graduate of the prestigious Columbia University Journalism School, currently working as the energy and climate change correspondent for Reuters in Germany.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.