As carnival season nears, Cologne puts the focus on safety after mass assaults on New Year’s Eve, while Bonn gets the party started early distributing leaflets in Arabic on the festivities. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Fear and fanfare ahead of Carnival in Germany
Germany is preparing to celebrate carnival — but this year it comes with a note of caution following the widely publicised mass assaults on women in Cologne on New Years Eve.
Prosecutors say more than 900 complaints have been filed from women who say they were mugged, groped and even raped by groups of drunken men. They say most of them were north African migrants.
Chief City Administration officer Guido Kahlen — says they don’t want to see history repeat itself.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) CHIEF CITY ADMINISTRATION OFFICER OF COLOGNE, GUIDO KAHLEN, SAYING:
“It is clear to us that these days of carnival will be a test for us to prove that we have drawn the necessary consequences from the terrible events at New Year.
But some people are already planning on protecting themselves. Since German laws puts severe restrictions on the sale of firearms for private use — they are seeking other solutions, like the pepper spray on sale at Christoph Kuettner ‘s Weapon Shop in Essen.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) MANAGER OF WEAPON SHOP ISENBERG, CHRISTOPH KUETTNER, SAYING:
“In the past, in recent years, we sold maybe 150 to 200 pepper sprays over the entire year, today we don’t have one day where we sell less than a hundred pepper sprays.”
In Bonn, Carnival organizers are parading through the streets ahead of next week’s celebrations, making sure everyone knows the party is imminent.
This year they are making a special effort to include refugees and migrants — distributing leaflets in Arabic.
The aim is to help migrants enjoy the party along with tourists and locals, despite the sour taste left by New Year’s Eve in Cologne.