Germany′s Rhineland celebrates Carnival, despite terror fears | News | DW | 16.02.2015
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Germany's Rhineland celebrates Carnival, despite terror fears

Celebrations have been in full swing across Germany's Carnival strongholds. Despite the cancelation of a procession on Sunday because of a terror alert, the party spirit on Rose Monday appeared to be undiminished.

Rose Monday celebrations went ahead in Germany's Carnival hotspots on Monday, in the wake of a terror alert that saw the cancelation of a procession through the northern city of Braunschweig.

In the country's Rhineland region, the traditional celebration ahead of Lent attracted hundreds of thousands of revelers, with the biggest events taking place in the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz.

In Cologne, scores of carnival floats - from which sweets are thrown to spectators - were prepared in advance, many with political and satirical themes. Other floats were a little more down to earth in nature.

Partygoers dressed in costume were already on site well ahead of the event, searching for a prime spot to view the proceedings. Among them were members of the FC Cologne football club.

Last month, organizers of the parade - Germany's biggest carnival procession - banned plans for a float paying tribute to the slain cartoonists of French magazine Charlie Hebdo because of security fears. An alternative to the original design, which would have depicted an armed militant with an explosives belt, did take to the street.

Further north in Düsseldorf, the procession featured a number of floats decorated on a terrorism theme.

More police vigilance

There had been suggestion that some Rose Monday events, which take place every year ahead of Ash Wednesday, might be canceled after a Sunday festival in the northern city of Braunschweig was called off because of a terror threat. However, the processions have been given the go-ahead, with added police vigilance.

In the run-up to Rose Monday, Christian Democrat politician Wolfgang Bosbach - head of the German parliament's interior committee - told DW that partygoers should be cautious, but not panic. "We don't want to bow to violence," he said. "We don't want to give extremists power over how we live our lives."

Karneval 2015 Rosenmontag

One float in Düsseldorf bore the message "Terrorism has nothing to do with Religion"

The cancellation in Braunschweig came two hours before the parade was due to set off, with police saying they had received credible evidence of "a concrete threat of an Islamist attack."

'Very specific' threat

Police chief Michael Pientka told German public broadcaster NDR there was no link between the decision and two fatal attacks in Copenhagen on Saturday. He later said there had been no arrests, nor any explosives or weapons found.

However, Pientka said unspecified security authorities had told police about the threat and that the information had been "very specific in terms of the place and time" of a planned attack. The information was said to have come from "reliable state security sources."

Pientka added that the region around Braunschweig had a well-known Islamist scene "but until now we did not believe it was of this type" to stage attacks.

The annual event, which has a more than 800-year tradition, is normally northern Germany's biggest parade during the Roman Catholic Carnival season.

Other events did go ahead as planned on Sunday, when celebrations traditionally take place in the German state of Hesse. Some 330,000 attended in Frankfurt, with 400,000 in nearby Wiesbaden.

rc/kms (AFP, dpa, EPD)

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