Anti-Muslim Group Pegida to Hold Cologne Rally After Mass Sexual AssaultPosted: January 7, 2016 | |
Pegida spokesperson says mass sexual assaults at Cologne train station vindicates her group’s call for a freeze on immigrants entering Germany.
The German anti-Muslim group Pegida will hold a rally outside the Cologne train station where dozens of women were sexually assaulted by a group of men on New Year’s Eve.
“Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers said speculation that the attackers were refugees was ‘absolutely inadmissible’”.
Witnesses and police said that the men involved were of Arab or North African appearance. Pegida are looking to capitalize on anti-immigrant fears in the wake of the attacks, and announced on its Facebook page that it will hold a rally on Saturday outside the train station.
“We don’t currently have any suspects, so we don’t know who the perpetrators were,” he said. “All we know is that the police at the scene perceived that it was mostly young men aged 18 to 35 from the Arab or North African region.”
— Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers
Pegida spokesperson Tatjana Festerling said that the attacks vindicated her group’s call for a freeze on immigrants entering Germany.
“They are exactly what we have been warning for over a year,” she told Russia Today.
“In Germany, this so-called ‘welcome culture’ is like a religion, and everybody who criticizes uncontrolled flooding with mostly Muslim young men is called a Nazi and has to shut up.”
— Pegida spokesperson Tatjana Festerlin
She claimed that the assaults would rightfully boost anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, as “one cannot blame people that they have become more radical facing this attack on our liberal order”, she said.
“In Germany, this so-called ‘welcome culture’ is like a religion, and everybody who criticizes uncontrolled flooding with mostly Muslim young men is called a Nazi and has to shut up,” she said.
On 31 December, a crowd of around 1,000 men, many of whom were drunk and aggressive, had gathered in the square outside the station and started letting off fireworks. Police eventually evacuated the area because of the risk of injury from the fireworks.
However, gangs of young men soon returned and carried out dozens of attacks and robberies over a number of hours, with little apparent response from the local authorities until well after midnight.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed outrage over the “disgusting attacks” and interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has criticized the police for their handling of the attack.
On 5 January, over 300 people took part in a demonstration against sexual violence outside Cologne station.
“Mrs Merkel, where are you? What do you say? This is scary,” read a sign held by one demonstrator.
Cologne authorities have warned that it is too early to blame immigrants for the attacks, with nobody having yet been arrested or charged in connection with the incident.
Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers said speculation that the attackers were refugees was “absolutely inadmissible”.
“We don’t currently have any suspects, so we don’t know who the perpetrators were,” he said. “All we know is that the police at the scene perceived that it was mostly young men aged 18 to 35 from the Arab or North African region,” he told reporters.
Police earlier said that known troublemakers were behind the attacks.
Cologne’s mayor Henriette Reker, who was stabbed in the neck by a far-right activist last year, backed Albers’ comment.
“It’s completely improper to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees,” she said.
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