Brussels: Turkish riots

The discussion in the US about recognizing the Armenian Genocide and the Turkish soldiers abducted by Kurdish nationalists near the Iraqi border are having an effect on the Turkish community in Belgium as well.

In the Brussels suburbs of Sint-Joost and Schaarbeek dozens of youth, mostly of Turkish origin, have been playing cat-and-mouse games with the police since 5pm after an illegal protest was broken up. Sint-Joost is a town with a large Turkish population, and more than 50% council members are Turkish.

At least 100 people have been arrested and several cars have been set ablaze.

The police is out in full force with about 200 policemen and a water cannon, charging in from time and time and following groups of youth among the evening traffic.

Mayor Jean Demannez of Sint-Joost understands that the local Turkish population wants to show its solidarity with Turkey now that the situation on the Turkish-Iraqi border is so tense. However, what's happening tonight is senseless and there was no request for a permit for the protest.

According to Demannez, "Small groups of youth spread themselves out and regroup everywhere. It's not only youth from our municipality or people who demonstrate for Turkey, but there are also youth who are only out for violence."

The disturbances today follow those on Sunday, which started with about 100 flag waving protesters marching to the American embassy . Local Turkish journalist Mehmet Koksal was attacked there, since he reports very critically about the Turkish extreme right. The protest then continued on late into the night with the destruction of a restaurant owned by an Iraqi of Armenian origin, for being "provocative". One policeman was injured. (see here a video clip of the Sunday protest)

In Antwerp about 200 Turkish youth gathered together at about 6pm. According to Sven Lommaret, spokesperson for the local police, there was no destruction, no injuries and no arrests. The youth, protesting against the Kurdish PKK, called out slogans. Several hot-heads suggested to really march through town and the group started to do so. However, the police spoke with the protesters and with people from the Turkish community and convinced them to turn back. The protest continued with shouted slogans and songs and ended at 7:30 with a moment of silence.
Sources (Dutch): HLN, Brussels Nieuws, Knack, Azady, Bruxelles 1, 2

See also:
Brussels: Tensions between Turks and Kurds

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