Hundreds of men committed sexual assaults and robberies near the cathedral

The provost of Cologne Cathedral has called on people to not “jump to conclusions” after hundreds of youths rampaged through the city on New Year’s Eve.

The incident, in which men, reportedly of Arab or North African appearance, sexually assaulted and robbed several dozen women, and allegedly committed a rape, has shocked Germany. Similar incidents were reported in Stuttggart and Hamburg.

The assaults took place close to Cologne cathedral, where last January the lights were turned off in solidarity with migrants, after a rally by the Right-wing Pegida organisation.

In a statement yesterday Provost Fr Gerd Bachner said: “The news of the violence on New Year’s Eve in front of the Cologne Central Station, in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral, has shocked me. I am concerned that people who wanted to celebrate the beginning of the New Year in our peaceful town were attacked in this way.

“It is clear that such incidents are unacceptable and I am glad that Mayor Henriette Reker immediately convened a crisis summit with the police and other leaders of the city. We must now act prudently and it is especially important to carefully investigate the incidents and not jump to conclusions. On this basis, I am confident that the city, together with the police, will take appropriate measures to ensure that such a thing does not happen again.”

In the last year, following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s change of policy towards migrants, almost one million immigrants have entered Germany.

The mayor of Cologne, who last January turned off the bridge lights in support for migrants, yesterday said women should adopt a “code of conduct” to avoid being assaulted. Henriette Reker said the code was designed ” so that such things do not happen to them.”