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"Refugees, welcome" spirit wanes after Cologne attacks

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"Refugees, welcome" spirit wanes after Cologne attacks


Public support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dropped in the wake of the Cologne sex attacks that were blamed on migrants.

A majority of Germans surveyed now think Merkel is doing a poor job dealing with the refugee crisis.

More than a million migrants entered Germany last year, and Merkel has resisted pressures from her fellow conservatives to say: “enough”.

But the public opinion is shifting.

Near Cologne, the town of Bornheim has just banned male refugees from a public swimming pool. Authorities say women there had complained of harassment.

Pepper sprays selling like hotcakes

The ban came as a survey by public broadcaster ZDF showed 60 percent of Germans believe the country cannot cope with the wave of migrants — up from 46 percent in December.

“To have an open arms policy doesn’t mean issues should not be addressed. It means that cultures get together, and some things in Germany are non-negotiable. To me, that includes the status of women and equality,” said Markus Schnapka, an official at Bornheim’s Social Services department.

Polls show Germans are increasingly worried that the inflow of migrants will bring crime. In Essen, also near Cologne, one gun shop manager, Christoph Kuettner, said business had rarely been this good.

“In recent years, we sold about 150 to 200 pepper sprays over the course of a year. Now, not a single day goes by where we sell less than 100 pepper sprays,” he said.

The German government has vowed to introduce new legislation to be able to expel asylum seekers who commit crimes. Friday’s survey showed 48 percent of Germans were afraid of refugees.

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