Kurdish people living in Paris and other cities in Europe took to the streets on Friday to protest an armed attack against a Kurdish cultural centre in the French capital that left three people dead and several others injured.
Kurds in Paris tried to reach the Ahmet Kaya Cultural Centre in the 10th arrondissement to pay their tributes to the victims, many weeping and hugging each other for comfort.
However, the protests turned into clashes between the crowd and the police deployed outside the centre, with police using teargas to disperse the protestors in order to prevent a breakthrough of a cordon that aimed to protect Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister of the country, who arrived at the scene.
French outlets shared footage showing angry protestors starting a fire in the middle of the street and throwing objects at police, overturning rubbish bins and restaurant tables as response, the Independent reported. Five policemen were injured and one person was arrested during the confrontations, Agence-France Press reported, citing a police source.
“We do not at all feel protected in Paris,” an activist told the French agency. “We don’t feel defended by the French justice system. It’s clearly the Kurds who were targeted.”
“The shooting happened in a Kurdish cultural centre. This is clearly an attack directed against the Kurds. We believe Turkey and Erdoğan are behind it,” a representative of the Kurdish community told the RIA Novosti news agency, referring to the Turkish president.
Many Kurds recalled another attack in the same area in Paris in 9 January 2013, which left Sakine Cansiz, one of the founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Fidan Doğan, and Leyla Söylemez dead. The triple assassinations remained unsolved despite French authorities concluding that Turkish spies were involved in the attack. The only suspect of the case, Ömer Güney, who was allegedly linked to the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT), died in prison in 2016 before the trial over the murders started.
The attack on Friday, which happened weeks before the tenth anniversary of the 2013 assassinations, fuelled the suspicions among Kurdish people about Turkey’s role in the latest murders.
“I can’t believe it’s starting again,” AFP quoted Jihan Akdogan as saying at the scene.
The Kurdish Democratic Council of France, which uses the cultural centre as its headquarters, called the attack a terrorist incident and recalled threats from Turkey.
However, despite the Kurdish community’s suspicions, the French authorities are treating the latest incident as a racist attack.
The police arrested a 69-year-old retired train conductor, who had been released from jail under judicial supervision ten days ago, for organising the attack. The suspect told the police after his arrest that he did not like Kurds, Le Parisien newspaper reported, citing an unnamed police source.
Paris Prosecutor Laure Beccuau said the suspect had carried out an attack on migrants in tents in eastern Paris in 2021 and had had a recent conviction for another crime in a Paris suburb.
In addition to Paris, Kurdish people also demonstrated their frustration in rallies organised in several cities in Switzerland and Germany, Mezopotamya News Agency reported.