Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Turks Press Germany for Citizen Rights, Police Protection AFTERMATH OF ARSON

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Turks Press Germany for Citizen Rights, Police Protection AFTERMATH OF ARSON

Article excerpt

SINCE the arson attack that killed five Turks in the west German town of Solingen last weekend, "I get shivers up and down my spine," says Jasemin Karakasoglu.

"I live in an apartment house with other foreigners" that is easily recognizable as such to anyone who might observe the house, the Turkish woman explains anxiously. "I live on the top floor..." she trails off, an obvious reference to the Solingen blaze that had been set in the staircase, blocking the escape route.

The Solingen murders, thought by officials to have a right extremist motivation, have awakened fear, rage, and despair in the 1.7 million Turks in Germany, by far the country's largest minority. Five hate crimes occur per day in Germany.

Yesterday, the federal prosecutor's office announced that the arson may have been committed solely by a 16-year-old, now in police custody. On June 1, the office sent out descriptions of four suspected accomplices, but later withdrew them after discovering that the youth had falsely implicated those people.

Five days after the deaths, Turks were still holding a vigil outside the charred house, demonstrating throughout Germany, and demanding more police protection. "We thought that after Molln {the German town where three Turks died last November in a neo-Nazi firebombing}, the extremist murders would stop. But nothing has changed," says Ms. Karakasoglu, who works at the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen.

Turkish extremist groups and young German anarchists have also rioted in Solingen, rampaging through the downtown area and smashing windows in stores, banks, and restaurants. In a joint statement issued June 1, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and interim leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Johannes Rau, warned against vigilante justice. "We must prevent injustice causing more injustice," they said.

The police reported that Solingen, after two nights of rioting, saw only minor unrest Tuesday night. But law enforcement officials are still wary of the 35,000 Turks in Germany who belong to extremist groups and who could be out for revenge. …

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