“Carnival is a centuries-old tradition,” reads the first line of a leaflet printed by the organisers of this year’s Cologne and Bonn carnivals. The leaflet, which provides cultural information along with rules on urinating in public and what sexual consent means is printed in a number of languages including English, French, Arabic and Farsi.
The “information for refugees” leaflet is intended to welcome people to join in with the celebrations, but it is explicit about sexual consent following the mass sex attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
“Carnival is a centuries old tradition. People wear fancy dress costumes, celebrate, sing and dance together,” it reads, explaining the size of the parades that will be expected on the cities’ streets next week.
“In the Rhineland region, everyone can join in during carnival,” but “we must treat each other with respect and observe the law,” it states.
“’Butzen’ means kissing somebody on the cheek, one of our carnival customs. Sexual overtures are strictly prohibited. Women and men must always consent to the ‘butzen’. No means no!”
A total of 497 people have filed reports of sexual assault following the attacks, while a police report said up to 1,000 drunken men, mainly of “Arab or North African origin” were responsible for robbing and attacking women on the night.
While the Cologne festival committee, the umbrella organisation for all carnival events in Cologne, has issued a leaflet explaining what the carnival is and how to join in, officials in Bonn have added to the information with the multi-lingual leaflet.
It also states that urinating in public is “strictly prohibited,” and addresses the consumption of alcohol as a widely accepted part of the festivities.
Many Muslims do not drink alcohol and there is a section on the leaflet informing refugees that “while many Cologne locals drink beer or other alcoholic beverages during Carnival, it is of course not compulsory. You can have fun, sing and dance just as easily without alcohol.”
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