Friday, January 27, 2023

Protests in France after deadly attack on Kurdish center

PARIS ( Associated Press) – Kurdish activists, left-wing politicians and anti-racism groups protested Saturday after an attack on a Kurdish cultural center in Paris that killed three people and officials believed was motivated by racism.

A shooting in a busy area of ​​central Paris wounded three people and raised fears of hate attacks against ethnic minorities as far-flung areas gain prominence in France and across Europe.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said the alleged attacker was wounded and taken into custody and was transferred to psychiatric care on Saturday. He is a 69-year-old Parisian who was accused of attacking migrants last year and was released a few days ago. The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Saturday that he faces possible charges of murder and attempted murder with racist motives.

Waving flags representing Kurdish rights groups, political parties and other causes, thousands gathered in the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris on Saturday.

The gathering was mostly peaceful, although some youths threw objects, set vehicles and garbage cans on fire, and police responded with tear gas. Some protesters chanted slogans against the Turkish government. Berivan Farat of the Kurdish Democratic Council in France told BFM TV that the violence broke out when several people passed through the area in vehicles waving the Turkish flag.

Most of the protesters were multi-generational ethnic Kurds, who came together to mourn the three people killed, including a prominent feminist activist and a Kurdish singer who had come to France as a refugee.

“We are really devastated. We are devastated because we have lost a very important member of our community and we are angry. How is this possible?” said defender Yekabun Ogur, a high school biology teacher in Paris. “Is it normal for a man with a gun to enter a cultural space to kill people?”

Demonstrator Yunus Cisek wiped away tears as he spoke about the victims and their fears.

“We are not safe here. Even though I have political refugee status, I don’t feel safe… Maybe next time it will be me.

The shooting rocked the French capital’s Kurdish community and put police on extra alert for the Christmas weekend. Paris’ police chief met members of the Kurdish community on Saturday to try to allay their fears ahead of Saturday’s protest.

The French Interior Ministry projects a 13% increase in race-related crimes or other crimes in 2021 compared to 2019, after an 11% increase from 2018 to 2019. The ministry did not include 2020 in its figures because of the gradual pandemic shutdown of that year. A disproportionate number of such crimes target people of African descent, he said, citing hundreds of attacks based on religion.

Friday’s attack took place near the cultural center, a nearby Kurdish restaurant and a Kurdish barbershop. Surveillance video of the hair salon shared online shows that people inside the salon overpowered the assailant before the police arrived. Prosecutors did not provide further details about the circumstances of his arrest.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the suspect was clearly targeting foreigners, had acted alone and was not officially affiliated with any far-right or other radical movement. The suspect had prior convictions for illegal possession of weapons and acts of violence with a weapon.

Kurdish activists claimed that the police had recently warned them about threats to Kurdish targets.

Nation World News Desk
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