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Thousands in Germany protest racism, attacks on refugees

Thousands of people have gathered in the German city of Stuttgart to protest racism and violence against refugees. Tensions have heightened recently following the events that occurred in Cologne on New Year's Eve.

More than 7,000 people gathered in Stuttgart Saturday to protest racism and violence against asylum-seekers. "Whether it's cowardly arson attacks on refugee shelters or persecuting foreigners or sexual violence, we will show them the red card," the Protestant state bishop of Württemberg, Frank Otfried July, told the gathering, as people waved flags showing the symbol of peace.

German press agency DPA's editor posted this picture from the protest:

Debates on refugees in Germany have intensified after a group of around 1,000 North African and Arab-looking men sexually harassed hundreds of women in Cologne's main railway station on New Year's Eve.

Similar cases, though on a smaller scale, were reported from Hamburg and Stuttgart.

Reports of incidents

of sexual violence by refugee men have been coming in,

causing a lot of resentment

among the local population.

'Together against violence'

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees living in and around the German city of Cologne gathered on Saturday to protest sexual violence against women. The participants carried placards with sogans such as, "Together against violence" and "No to violence against women." DW reporter Brandon Conradis tweeted this picture from Cologne's central railway station, where the protest was taking place.

Organizers of the protests condemned the

incidents of sexual assault on New Year's Eve

in Cologne, when around 1,000 men of North African and Arabic origin molested hundreds of women. Saturday's demonstrators said the offenders "did not represent our values and our culture." They also spoke in support of strong punishment for those who carried out the assaults and their deportation from Germany.

The protesters were joined by dozens of other people who participated in the demonstration to show their support for the refugees.

Police said an anti-racism organization called "Köln gegen Rechts," was planning a flash mob on Saturday. No counter-protests were taking place and no violence was reported from the scene.

mg/jlw (epd, dpa)

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