The sales of pepper spray and non-lethal firearms have spiked in Germany following the New Year’s Eve wave of sexual assaults in the city of Cologne. The number of assaults against migrants has also increased.
In the early evening of Dec. 31, 2015, hundreds of men stormed the Cologne central train station and proceeded to rob and sexually assault the congregating women. As of Jan. 15, 676 criminal complaints had been filed, 347 of them sexual in nature, NBC reports.
The majority of the attackers have been identified as North African men, several listed as asylum-seekers fleeing from the war-torn areas of the Middle East.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has voiced skepticism that the riot was spontaneous, according to BBC.
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“If such a horde gathers in order to commit crimes, that appears in some form to be planned,” Maas said. “Nobody can tell me that this was not coordinated or prepared.”
Similar attacks occurred on a smaller scale also occurred in the German cities of Hamburg and in Stuttgart on Dec. 31, 2015.
The Cologne chief of police, Wolfgang Albers, resigned after he was caught intentionally suppressing knowledge of the attackers’ ethnic origins.
Defensive weapon sales have swelled in Germany since the attack, with citizens buying pepper sprays, stun guns, imitation handguns and "gas pistols." The country has strict gun laws that only allow hunters and marksmen to purchase lethal firearms.
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Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel has denounced the Cologne assault as “disgusting, criminal acts” but has steadfastly refused to denounce the migrants entering her country, CNN reports.
Germany’s Justice Ministry announced on Jan. 12 that it would ease the grounds for deportation of migrants who break German law.
The Cologne attack has fueled anti-immigrant fervor in Germany, especially against Muslim migrants. Anti-Muslim group PEGIDA demonstrated in Leipzig on Jan. 11, waving signs that included the declaration “Rape-fugees Not Welcome.”
Violence against Muslims have increased as well. High-profile incidents include six Pakistanis being assaulted and a Syrian man being ganged up on by five men.