Officials in Germany have called for restraint between the country’s Turkish and Kurdish communities after five people were reportedly injured during a protest against Turkey’s military operation in north-eastern Syria.
Violence broke out on Monday, 14 October, when a group of around 350 demonstrators marching through the western city of Herne were “provoked” by a person in a kiosk making “insulting hand gestures” according to a police statement quoted by German media.
“Some of them stormed the kiosk, attacked two people inside and injured them” as well as breaking a window, police said.
Windows and furniture at a nearby Turkish-owned café, pictured above, were also smashed leading to two more people being injured, including a police officer who tried to break up the fight.
A fifth person, said to be the organiser of the march, was also attacked when he tried to stop the violence.
Germany’s Spiegel Online reported that the organiser was a “German man who regularly coordinates demonstrations for different causes in Herne”.
Police were eventually “able to calm the situation” and the demonstrators ended their march as planned in Herne city centre.
German Kurds protest in Cologne
Flash News – Thousands protest against Turkish attacks in Syria,
10,000 Thousands of people in the German city of Cologne demonstrated Saturday against Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria.#Berlin #People #demonstration #TurkishAttacks #Syria #Kurds pic.twitter.com/u51UnTpWHJ
— Flash News (@flashnewskurds) 19 October 2019
Other reports said that on the same night a man wearing a jacket emblazoned with the Turkish flag was left with “facial injuries” after being set upon by a group of 15 people in Berlin.
“According to the 30-year-old Turkish citizen, the men had assaulted him because of the jacket he was wearing which had a Turkish national flag on it,” a Berlin police statement said. The attackers “spoke Arabic and German” the police added.
Anti-Turkey protests and counter-demonstrations have taken place in cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Cologne, with German authorities calling for “restraint” between ethnic communities.
“We have a responsibility to prevent the conflict in the region becoming a conflict in our society,” integration commissioner Annette Widmann-Mauz told the Funke newspaper group.
“I expect all sides, especially migrant organisations and religious communities, to take responsibility and contribute to restraint.”
Meanwhile a report in The Times and other news outlets said that German automotive giant Volkswagen has decided to postpone its plans to open a new factory in Izmir, Turkey, because of the events in Syria.
The issue has also touched the world of football. Italy’s Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora has written to UEFA, football’s governing body in Europe, asking for the Champions League final to be moved from Istanbul, where it is due to be held in May, according to Italian news agency Ansa.
There have also been calls for UEFA investigate claims that Turkish national football team players breached its strict rules on political neutrality after they gave military salutes to fans during and after recent European Championship qualifiers against Albania and France in an apparent show of support for the Turkish Armed Forces.
German national team members of Turkish origin, former Liverpool player Emre Can and Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan, found themselves criticised by some quarters after “liking” a social media post by Turkey and Everton striker Cenk Tosun.
Cenk Tosun dedicates his winning goal against Albania to the ‘Turkish nation’
Tosun shared a photo of himself performing the military salute after scoring the winner against Albania along with the caption: “For our nation, especially for the ones risking their lives for our country.”
Can and Gündoğan later “unliked” the Instagram post and issued statements explaining that they had not intended to send out any political message.