The Turkish military offensive in the Kurdish-populated Afrin province of northwestern Syria has increased attacks on Turkish communities in Germany, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.
According to DW, there have been dozens of attacks so far this year on Turkish mosques and restaurants in Germany, a sharp rise from last year’s figures. The German Interior Ministry said Turkey’s offensive in Afrin has inflamed tensions.
The report said as tensions rise over the Turkish government’s offensive in Afrin, the violence is spilling over in Germany’s Kurdish and Turkish communities. German police have logged a total of 37 attacks carried out by suspected pro-Kurdish activists so far this year, newspapers with the Funke media group in Germany reported on Tuesday. The attacks targeted Turkish mosques, restaurants and cultural organizations.
There were 13 such attacks for the entirety of last year, according to figures provided by the Interior Ministry. The figures do not include attacks carried out by suspected far-right extremists. “Germany has long been a mirror and sounding board for Turkish-Kurdish conflicts in view of the large numbers of people with Turkish backgrounds living here,” an Interior Ministry spokeswoman told the Funke media group newspapers.
“This is especially true considering the backdrop of current events in and around Afrin,” she added. The spokeswoman emphasized, however, that the figures for this year and for last year are still provisional and may rise or fall.
In the past few weeks, there have been numerous arson attacks, acts of vandalism and other attacks on Turkish institutions in Germany. In one incident, three youths were seen throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of a mosque in Berlin. In the small southwestern German town of Lauffen, attackers hit a Turkish-linked mosque with explosive devices.
Communities in Germany should expect further attacks, Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentarian and deputy chairman of the foreign policy, defense and human rights committees Rolf Mützenich told DW. “It was also the case in the past that domestic Turkish conflicts were also noticable in Germany,” Mützenich told DW. “Clearly the political atmosphere in these communities is such that the tensions are on the rise again.”
Also in Greece, a group of 25 people on Tuesday evening reportedly attacked a branch of Turkish lender Ziraat Bank in Komotini. The masked suspects, calling themselves “anti-government anarchists,” threw stones at the Ziraat Bank building after they launched a protest in the city center.
The main entrance of the bank and its windows were damaged during the attack. No injuries were reported as the incident happened outside of banking hours.
At the protest in central Komotini, sympathizers of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-linked People’s Protection Units (YPG) gathered around, handing out leaflets saying, “Ee stand by the YPG.” The protesters dispersed after Greek police arrived on the scene.
On January 20, Turkey launched a military operation in Afrin, a Kurdish-majority area of northern Syria. Armed with German-made tanks and with the help of its allied groups in Syria, Turkish troops seized Afrin on Sunday. The offensive sparked large protests by Kurdish communities in Germany.