Kohl ducks race issue as rioting rages on: Critics accuse government of withholding dual citizenship

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The Independent Online
A 16-year-old Turkish girl was knocked down and seriously hurt by a drunken German motorist late last night, as hundreds of angry Turkish youths went on the rampage for the third consecutive night in Solingen, near Cologne, following the deaths of five compatriots in a fire at the weekend.

Shouting 'Turkey, Turkey]' and 'Nazis out]' they tore through the northern part of the city, smashed shop windows and played a cat-and-mouse game with more than 1,200 riot police.

'They are destroying everything,' a woman screamed. A policeman said: 'This isn't an ordinary night of vandalism: it's a state of emergency.'

There were clashes between demonstrators and police in other German cities, too, including Augsburg, Bremen and Duisburg. Demonstrators blocked motorways, looted shops and threw stones at police. At least nine people were arrested and 30 were injured.

Turkey's Foreign Minister, Hikmet Cetin, earlier appealed for calm. There were renewed calls for Germany to introduce dual citizenship to allow better integration of the 1.8 million Turks in Germany. In theory, the government favours such a change. But, even now, it seems wary of seeming too conciliatory towards the Turks, in case this should offend the far right. Thus, the Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor, Klaus Kinkel, agreed that dual citizenship would lead to better integration; but added: 'I fear that such discussion is merely grist to the mill of those who commit such terrible deeds.'

The government spokesman, Dieter Vogel, said that the racist attackers were sometimes drunk, acted spontaneously and used radical symbols 'which they probably do not fully understand themselves'. But this avoids the more difficult question, which the government seems reluctant to address: what needs to be done to curb the country's murderous minority, and their 'spontaneous' actions?

Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in an article printed in English and Turkish on the front page of Bild, Germany's biggest-selling daily, condemned the killings. But he, too, did not say what Germany should now do.

Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, the government appointee with responsibility for foreigners in Germany, was less evasive. She insisted a change in citizenship laws was 'long overdue'. Others urged tougher action against extreme-right parties.

After the arrest of a teenager on Monday in connection with the killings, descriptions of four other men, aged between 18 and 25, were issued. But later the federal prosecutor's office said the arrested suspect had given incorrect information and the manhunt was stopped.

Mr Kohl will not attend the memorial ceremony tomorrow for the two women and three girls who died in Solingen; nor has he visited the site of the killings, the worst single act of violence since German unification three years ago. Instead, the government will be represented by Mr Kinkel and by the Interior Minister, Rudolf Seiters. President Richard von Weizsacker, will also be present.

GRENOBLE - Fire destroyed a factory owned by a Turk and Nazi swastikas were found daubed on charred walls, Reuter reports. No one was hurt.