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Germany

Tensions rise between Kurds and Turks in Germany

After the attack in Ankara, the Turkish community warns against an escalation of violence in Germany. Turkish political parties speak of an agitated atmosphere but not everyone agrees with the warnings.

Until now, there have only been isolated cases – but fear is growing that the conflict in Turkey could ignite in ethnic communities in Germany. Last week, the Berlin office of the pro-Kurd Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was the target of an arson attack. Unknown suspects threw a Molotov cocktail in the office that had just opened for the election campaign in Berlin. Residents noticed the fire and put it out. Two weeks before that, the office of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) in Hamm, Germany, was hit by a suspected arson attack. The UETD is a lobby group for the Turkish government and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

After the deadly attack in Ankara that left nearly 100 dead, the chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, Gökay Sofuoglu, warned against an escalation of violence in Germany. "I've observed that all the different sides on social media are calling for demonstrations that have not been authorized," said Sofuoglu. "Different groups are developing on the Turkish and Kurdish sides."

More provocation

Türkei Ankara Anschlag Proteste in Deutschland Hamburg

Kurds demonstrated in Hamburg after the attack

Representatives of different political camps share Sofuoglu's fears. Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and HDP representatives have observed a deterioration of the situation in Germany.

Fatih Zingal, vice-chairman of UETD in Cologne, speaks of an "explosive atmosphere". He claims that there are "people who deliberately provoke." Zingal fears that there may be conflicts in the polling stations, which have already opened in Turkish consulates. "We ask you to ignore provocateurs," he said.

Erkin Erdogan, spokesman for the HDP in Berlin, has also seen an increase in political provocation. In addition to the HDP arson attack in Berlin, there had have also been several attacks on the party's information stands in recent weeks, says Erdogan and adds, "we do not know what will happen." Nonetheless, he announced that the party would continue its campaign in Germany. "Success at the ballot box is the best answer to this threat."

German police will take decisive action against violence

Deutschland Berlin Demonstration Kurden

Kurds also took to the streets to protest in Berlin

The German interior ministry also sees "cause for concern". A ministry spokesman said authorities have observed "that emotions are running high with regard to the current situation" in the various groups and that "security agencies are aware of this". Roger Lewentz, who currently heads the conference of interior ministers of Germany's states, announced that the police would "take decisive action against violence".

Not all representatives of the Turkish communities agree with the hue and cry about potential conflicts. Ayse Demir, chairwoman for the liberal Turkish Alliance in Berlin-Brandenburg clearly does not want to be part of this. Over the weekend, several spontaneous demonstrations were organized in Germany as a response to the attack in Ankara. About 5,000 demonstrators gathered in Stuttgart and about 1,000 in Berlin. "Despite the awful attack, there were no riots," says Demir."And we hope that it stays that way."

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