Hundreds of far-right supporters turned out Saturday at a rally in Cologne protesting against a rash of sexual assaults, in the western German city during New Year’s festivities.
Chanting “expulsion”, supporters of PEGIDA movement waved banners and signs bearing slogans like “Rapefugees not welcome”.
They also took aim at Chancellor Angela Merkel, accusing her of allowing refugees to run rampage in Germany through her liberal stance towards those fleeing war.
“Merkel has become a danger to our country. Merkel must go,” a member of PEGIDA told the crowd, which repeated the call.
Witnesses have described the perpetrators of the assaults in Cologne on the night of December 31 as people with North African or Arab appearance.
Federal police have said that a majority of the suspects identified so far are of foreign origin, inflaming a debate over Germany’s ability to integrate the 1.1 million asylum seekers it took in last year alone.
“These women who fell victim will have to live with it for a long time. I feel like my freedom has been robbed from me,” a mother of four introduced as Christiane told the rally.
“That’s impossible. Frau Merkel, Frau Reker, you are women! Where is your solidarity? What are women worth in this society?” she said.
Henriette Reker runs refugee services in Cologne