Protests in Cologne after assaults; Merkel pledges new laws
COLOGNE, Germany (AP):
Women's rights activists, far-right demonstrators, and left wing counter-protesters took to the streets of Cologne on Saturday to voice their opinions in the debate that has followed a string of New Year's Eve sexual assaults and robberies blamed largely on foreigners.
Amid the heightened public pressure, Chancellor Angela Merkel's party proposed stricter laws regulating asylum seekers in the country - some 1.1 million of whom arrived last year.
Police said around 1,700 protesters from the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement were kept apart from 1,300 counter-demonstrators in simultaneous protests outside the city's main train station.
PEGIDA members held banners with slogans like "RAPEfugees not welcome" and "Integrate barbarity?" while the counter-protesters pushed the message "refugees welcome".