Cologne migrants sex attacks
People from Syria hold placards reading 'We respect the values of German society' and 'We are all Cologne' during a rally outside the main railway station in Cologne REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Refugees have been warned not to sexually assault women, urinate in the street or drink too much alcohol in leaflets handed out to them in the lead-up to several carnivals in Germany's Rhineland. Organisers of the Bonn and Cologne carnivals handed out the leaflets, which were written in languages including German, Arabic, Farsi, English, French and Albanian, ahead of the week-long celebrations that see hundreds of thousands of people pour onto the streets at the beginning of February.

The leaflet read: "In the Rhineland region, everyone can join in during carnival. But: Also during carnival, we must treat each other with respect and observe the law. Important – Please note: 'bützen' means kissing somebody on the cheek, one of our carnival customs. Sexual overtures are strictly prohibited. Women and men must always consent to the 'bützen'. No means no!

"For many people, alcoholic beverages belong to celebrating carnival. But if you drink alcohol, please do so in moderation. Urinating in public is strictly prohibited."

It will be the biggest public event for the German cities involved since New Year's Eve, when in Cologne more than 200 cases of assault on women were reported to police, with many of the assailants believed to be migrants. The sexual assaults caused a backlash in Germany, where opportunistic far-right group Pegida organised a march in response to the Cologne attacks, claiming that immigration policy was to blame for the events of New Year's Eve.

The public reaction to the attacks also led to MPs putting pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to change Germany's immigration policy.

Leaflets were also handed out by some Syrian refugees in response to the attacks, outlining their respect from women and desire not to be tarnished with the same brush as the criminals who carried out the assaults.

Posted on Facebook by American Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, who stated he had been handed the leaflet in a Cologne café, it read: "We, men from Syria, strongly condemn the abuse of women and the attacks against people as well as the robberies on New Year's Eve. We regret that women were injured in their honour and bodily. We hope that they recover quickly and well. We hope that the people guilty of these criminal actions will be found and punished.

"Our cultural values were trod upon with both feet through these criminal actions. Our values of course include respect of women and men, respect of bodily integrity, and respect of personal property. We are thankful to all people in Germany, to women and men for all the help, they have given us already.

"We will prove ourselves worthy of their engagement and their help. You and we will see, that your values are also ours. Germany has done more for us than any other European or Arab land!"

The leaflets distributed by Syrian refugees have been received far better than those distributed by the Cologne and Bonn carnivals, which have been widely criticised on social media.