Protest bubbles up against bizarre Cologne street art ban

Crowds gathered in front of Cologne's famed cathedral on Sunday to protest against the "pettiness" of city authorities - by blowing soap bubbles.

Protest bubbles up against bizarre Cologne street art ban
File Photo: DPA

The demonstrators gathered in response to a call on Facebook to gather in front of the Cologne Cathedral and produce as many soap bubbles as possible. And the in crisp autumn weather, hundreds of residents of the Rhine metropole flocked to the city centre to take part, Die Welt reports.

The protest was sparked by a perceived ban by the city's public order office on street artists blowing bubbles formed out of soap suds.

In recent weeks, street artists have been enchanting crowds in the city centre by blowing enormous soap bubbles at rapid speed through the air, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger reports.

Authorities claim the bubbles “contaminate public spaces” since they contain detergent that could end up in the city’s drinking water reservoirs.

The soap also places a film on the streets which leads to an “acute danger” of pedestrians slipping and injuring themselves, leading public order officials to threaten street artists with fines of up to €510, the paper reports. 

Around 2,000 people signed up for the protest on Facebook, with one commentator describing the regulation as “unbelievable pettiness”.

But the city's public order office refuted the idea that it had laid down a wholesale ban on soap bubbles.

Shop owners had complained that the soap suds were dirtying their windows and making the entrances to their shops slippery, public order office boss Engelbert Rummel told Express.

“We asked the street performers to go somewhere else. But there was no ban imposed,” he insisted.

Cologne mayor Henriette Reker has also waded into the slippery debate, insisting that a ban would be ridiculous.

“That is absolute nonsense,” she told Express. “This beautiful and fantastical enrichment of our city is not banned. Where would we end up otherwise?” 

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Police arrest 59 at pro-Palestinian protest in Berlin

Police made 59 arrests while dozens of police officers were injured during violent clashes at a Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin this weekend, police said on Sunday.

Police arrest 59 at pro-Palestinian protest in Berlin
Protesters take part in a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinians called over the ongoing conflict with Israel on May 15, 2021 at Hermannplatz in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

Around 3,500 people had gathered in the German capital’s Neukölln district on Saturday afternoon in one of several rallies over the escalating conflict in the Middle East, according to police.

Protesters threw stones, bottles and fireworks as police tried to break up the demonstration, injuring 93 officers and prompting them to use pepper spray.

Several people were being investigated for shouting “anti-Israel slogans”, the police said.

Around 900 officers were deployed to several demonstrations during the day, with the others passing mainly peacefully.

Palestinian militants have launched more than 3,000 rockets into Israel over the past week, according to Israel’s army, which has launched hundreds of air strikes on Hamas and other Islamist groups in the crowded coastal enclave of Gaza.

The most intense hostilities in seven years were triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Germany has seen several scattered demonstrations over the escalating conflict, with protesters shouting anti-Semitic slogans, burning Israeli flags and damaging the entrance to a synagogue with stones.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany on Sunday said it had received “a torrent of the most vile anti-Semitic insults” on social media.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Jews call for protection amid Israel-Palestinian clashes

Council president Josef Schuster urged the police to take a hard line against anti-Semitism and said recent events had been “reminiscent of the darkest times in German history”.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Sunday said Germany would crack down hard on anyone found to be spreading “anti-Semitic hatred”.

“We will not tolerate Israeli flags burning on German soil and Jewish institutions being attacked,” he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

READ ALSO: Germany slams ‘anti-Semitic’ demos and Hamas ‘terrorist attacks’
Speaking at an ecumenical church congress, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said “nothing can justify” threats to Jews in Germany or attacks on synagogues. 

Some six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

The Jewish community in Germany has been growing since reunification in 1990, notably with the arrival of many thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union.

The arrival of refugees from Arab nations hostile to Israel, in 2015 and 2016, added to the prevailing anti-Semitism in some Muslim circles in Germany.