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Turkey urges action against racism on anniv. of Hanau attacks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People gather at a market square with placards showing the portraits of nine victims during commemorations for the deadly 2020 Hanau shootings, in Hanau, western Germany, one year after the attack, on February 19, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey has called on Europe to take action against racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, as the country is set to mark one year since terrorist attacks in Germany’s western city of Hanau.

“The ruthless attack in Hanau has shown that racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia need to be addressed in a much more effective and serious manner and it is about time to enhance international cooperation in this regard,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a statement on Friday.

He said Turkey expected Germany to finalize the investigation into the Hanau attacks in a fair and speedy manner.

Cavusoglu urged all European countries to embrace the principles of peaceful coexistence and not remain silent in the face of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism.

“Turkey is ready to display international and bilateral cooperation against all types of racism and xenophobia,” he said.

He said authorities needed to refrain from the far-right and populist political rhetoric that boosts xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism in Europe.

In February last year, two shootings targeted locations in Hanau, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Frankfurt, leaving at least nine people dead and five others injured.

The victims were young members of Germany’s minority Turkish community who had been targeted by rising Islamophobia inside the country.

In the wake of the attacks, Muslim groups demanded that the German government offer their community more protection. They have faced a growing threat from far-right groups in recent years.

Even as a year has passed since the attacks rocked Germany, the Turkish community still lives in fear.

“These attacks need to end now,” Cavusoglu said. “Otherwise, this sick mentality will not only pose a threat to foreigners and Muslims but everyone.”

The Turkish foreign minister said that politicians had a tremendous responsibility to make sure that populist, racist, and anti-migrant rhetoric does not take European politics hostage.

“We can only solve this issue through cooperation and by taking determined steps,” he said, adding that Turkey would continue to stand by its citizens living abroad.

This comes as Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran is set to attend a ceremony in Hanau to express solidarity with the victims of the attacks last year.

The event is limited to 50 participants due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will also be present at the event.

Speaking on the eve of the anniversary, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the attacks could have been avoided considering the information gathered by domestic intelligence in the years before.

He said more than 33,000 right-wing extremists lived in Germany, 13,000 of whom were willing to use violence, and the trend is rising.

“Why aren’t we all hearing alarm bells?” he asked. “And how can it be that the bereaved are still complaining about the disrespect and bureaucratic coldness they face from the authorities?”

Maas also spoke of “everyday racism in governmental and municipal offices, in shops, in schools, buses, and trains,” which must be stopped.

Germany has been targeted in recent years by several extremist attacks, one of which killed 12 people in the heart of Berlin in December 2016.

But far-right attacks have become a particular concern for German authorities. The increase in hate crimes in recent months has prompted the country to expand a crackdown on right-wing political violence.

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