Five arrested as Turks celebrate semi-final role

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Five men and a teenage boy were arrested at the weekend when fighting broke out between Kurds and Turkish football fans celebrating their World Cup victory.

Five men and a teenage boy were arrested at the weekend when fighting broke out between Kurds and Turkish football fans celebrating their World Cup victory.

The violence started in Haringey, north London, when hundreds of people spilled onto the streets, after Saturday's 1-0 defeat against Senegal, to celebrate the Turks most successful tournament yet.

As the crowds gathered, about 100 Turks and up to 50 Kurds hurled stones and attacked each other with knives and wooden poles.One man, aged 25, was taken to hospital with head injuries but he was not believed to have been seriously hurt.

Fifty police officers in riot gear managed to break up the fighting and drove the two sides apart. Buildings in the area were attacked and a Kurdish grocery shop ransacked during the violence. Scotland Yard said the trouble had died down by early evening.

Three men were charged with using threatening words and behaviour and three others were released without charge, including a boy aged 14.

The area around Green Lanes has a large Turkish population and has been held up as an example of rival ethnic groups living peacefully with each other. The Turkish flag has featured prominently outside shops and businesses during the country's successful cup campaign.

The goal during extra time in the match against Senegal was otherwise greeted with unalloyed joy by members of the Turkish community, which is not used to seeing its football team do so well.

Turkey have not featured in World Cup finals for 48 years, and celebrations in Turkish communities at the weekend matched the scale of their achievement. Streets in north London were blocked as hundreds of people drove around the area draping Turkish flags from their car windows and beeping their horns.

Hundreds of others descended on Trafalgar Square to celebrate and cheer and dance around Nelson's Column.

The Londra Gazete, a weekly newspaper for Turkish-speaking communities in London, will not come out until Thursday, after the team's semi-final match against Brazil.

Artun Goksan, the editor-in-chief of the paper, said: "If Turkey goes out and wins that one, there will be an even bigger party. This time in Stoke Newington there was a big, big crowd of more than 500 people and at Trafalgar Square more than 1,000. Mostly, people were on Green Lanes with their cars and flags all the way down to Enfield and back."

In Turkey, victories in European club competitions often bring people on to the streets, but Saturday was the first time it had happened in London, Mr Goksan said.

Mustafa Demir, who works at The Best Turkish Kebab shop in Stoke Newington, said: "Everywhere was jammed with people enjoying it. All of north London was blocked. It has been the best thing for promoting Turkey and its culture."

If the side is victorious against Brazil, it will face the victor of the Germany vs South Korea game.Germany has a huge Turkish community of about two million.