German city cancels parade over Islamist terror threat

Mayor calls off annual Roman Catholic event in Braunschweig after police receive tip-off of possible attack

A parade in the German town of Braunschweig, 2013 (screen capture: YouTube/xiphoto)
A parade in the German town of Braunschweig, 2013 (screen capture: YouTube/xiphoto)

BERLIN — The German city of Braunschweig cancelled a planned carnival parade Sunday because of a “specific threat of an Islamist attack,” police said.

The event, which was to begin at 11:20 GMT, was called off following a tip by “reliable state security sources,” police said in a statement.

“Police request all visitors not to go to the planned parade route or not to make the trip to Braunschweig in the first place,” the statement said.

Police chief Michael Pientka told public broadcaster NDR there was no link between the cancellation and two fatal attacks in Copenhagen Saturday, which had come little more than a month after Islamist attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead.

Organizers said the annual event in Braunschweig was normally the biggest parade in northern Germany during February’s Roman Catholic carnival season with up to 250,000 visitors expected.

More than 4,000 participants in fancy dress march down a six-kilometer (four-mile) route through the city.

The decision to call it off was taken by Mayor Ulrich Markurth and the parade’s marshal, Gerhard Baller.

“This is a sad day for our city,” Markurth told NDR. “The assessment of the police however left us with no other choice.”

Last month, Germany’s biggest carnival procession, in the western city of Cologne, banned a float paying tribute to the slain cartoonists of French magazine Charlie Hebdo due to security fears.

The float design, selected in an online popular vote, featured a man dressed in black with an explosives belt and a drawn gun and a jester shoving a pencil down its barrel.

The carnival committee said that it backed the message of the float defending free speech and freedom of the press.

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