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Rhineland town axes Carnival over sexual assault fears

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Rhineland carnival parades traditionally include decorated floats. Photo: DPA
10:53 CET+01:00
A town north of Cologne has cancelled one of its Carnival parades, citing fears of a repeat of the sexual assaults which took place in the Cathedral city over the New Year.

The suburb of Orsoy in Rheinsberg, 70 km north of Cologne, can’t rule out that refugees might visit the parade and in a drunken state, leading to a repeat of the scenes of sexual assault seen in Cologne, the city announced in a press release.

There are currently 300 refugees being housed in the Orsoy neighbourhood, where the parade was to be held on February 8th, with a further 200 set to arrive at the start of February.

The city made clear, though, that there are other concerns which contributed to the decision to cancel the street party.

The parade used to always be held on a Sunday, with a turnout of around 2,500 visitors. But the decision to hold it on Monday this year could have led to double that number turning up.

The city is concerned it said that a “problematic audience” would turn up “who had chosen their parade because they think it will not be so closely controlled by police and security personnel.”

Traffic jams caused by increased traffic entering and leaving the town  were cited as a further reason for the cancellation.

The city requested the event organizers to come up with a new security plan, but with around three weeks to go until the festival, there wasn’t enough time.

“We’re shocked, we’ve already ordered a lot of the stuff we needed, it’s going to cost us,” Paul van Holt, head of the organizing committee, told the Rheinische Post.

“We would’ve needed half a year [to come up with a new security plan]” he added.

Cancelled plans the exception

But while the parade through the Orsoy suburb itself won't go ahead, that doesn't mean the whole town has cancelled its carnival celebration.

In other towns in the Rhine region plans for the Carnival, which involves huge street parties, are going ahead as scheduled.

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A spokesperson for the Carnival committee in Düsseldorf called Rheinberg’s decision “ridiculous”, adding that everyone who wants to come is welcome.

“We’ll celebrate the carnival just as we always have,” a spokesperson for Düsseldorf city hall said.

In Cologne itself preparation are going head as usual.

“We haven’t reworked our security concept,” said a spokesperson for the organizing committee.

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