Istanbul (dpa) – Turkish and Kurdish communities were mourning the deaths of nine people killed in shootings in Germany, and called for the authorities to do more to tackle xenophobia.
While law enforcement hasn’t yet revealed the identities of the victims, an umbrella organization for Kurds in Germany said they included people of Kurdish descent.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) pointed a finger at tolerance “towards the far-right” and “racist policies and xenophobia” being normalized in Europe and elsewhere.
Kurdish associations in Germany said they were horrified by the violence in the western city of Hanau, which seemed to target people of foreign origin.
“We are all shocked,” said Mehmet Tanriverdi, the deputy president of the Kurdish Community of Germany.
The group said that 6,000-7,000 people with Kurdish roots live in the Hanau region. The shootings took place in two shisha bars and a kiosk, which are often run by people of Kurdish origin, Tanriverdi said.
The Turkish ambassador to Germany, Ali Kemal Aydin, spoke of a “very black day for Germany.” He said, “We are in pain,” in remarks to CNN Turk television station.
Aydin warned against reducing the search for the guilty to one person, and called on the authorities to investigate whether the attacker had associates.
He recalled the 10 murders of people of Turkish and Greek origin between 2000 and 2007 by the National Socialist Underground, a right-wing terror cell that went ignored by officials for too long. “The German authorities must thoroughly investigate what happened,” he said.
The attacks have shown “racism and Islamophobia” are on the rise in Europe, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, calling on authorities to fight against “xenophobia.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered his condolences to the families of Turks killed, adding that Turkish authorities were closely following the incident.
“I believe that German authorities will make all the necessary efforts to shed light on the attack,” Erdogan said in Ankara.
Germany is home to the largest population of Turkish migrants in Europe, numbering about 3 million.
The Turkish Community in Germany demanded that the authorities ensure a comprehensive and permanent focus on right-wing extremism.
“This terror is not an attack on all of us. It targets certain people for racist motives,” the group said in a statement, adding that “real solidarity means recognizing that.”
It called on the media to report about the victims “with names, stories and compassion.”
The group also asked: “How many more people have to die before we realize that racism is the father of the problems in this country?”
Mustafa Sentop, the speaker of Turkey’s parliament, said that Germany should fight against “racist and Nazi-originated terrorism.”
A spokesman for the Confederation of Kurdistan Communities, an umbrella group, described a sense of sorrow and anger, the latter because Germany’s political leaders do not resolutely oppose right-wing networks and right-wing terrorism.
The group said that the political rhetoric of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and its trivialization created a breeding ground for right-wing terrorism.
Turkish broadcaster A Haber interviewed a survivor, identified only as Muhammed, from his hospital bed.
Speaking in Turkish, he said he heard five or six gunshots outside the Arena Bar where he was eating with about 12 people. His voice quivering, the young man recalled the assailant entering the bar and opening fire.
“I hid behind a wall, was hit in one arm, then I lay on the ground, with two people bending over me,” he said, still in a state of shock.
Only two of us survived, he said, adding he saw one person who was shot in the throat. “I don’t feel my tongue, brother,” he said, adding that he heard the man whispering and reciting the Shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam.