Kohl urged to attend service for Turks: Protests continue while politicians attack 'sickness in German society'

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The Independent Online
PRESSURE grew yesterday on the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, to attend today's ceremony for the five Turks who died in an arson attack at the weekend. Meanwhile, nationwide protests against the killings continued - mostly peaceful, but including some further clashes with police.

Calls for Mr Kohl to appear at the memorial service in Cologne came not just from opposition parties, but from within his Christian Democrat party. Alfons Muller, a Christian Democrat, said the Chancellor's presence 'would be a sign of German-Turkish friendship and understanding'.

Rita Sussmuth, president of the parliament (and a Christian Democrat), addressed the difficult issues raised by the killings, talking of a 'sickness within our society'. Mr Kohl has avoided such painful introspection, preferring to treat the killings as an inexplicable act of savagery.

Official figures released yesterday showed there were 747 acts of right-wing violence in the first five months of this year - 40 per cent up on the same period in 1992.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll for RTL television suggested there is widespread support for tougher action against the extreme right. It showed 70 per cent of all Germans in favour of a ban on the Republicans, the 'respectable' face of the far right which looks set to gain seats in parliament next year.

Richard von Weizsacker, the German President, will attend today's Cologne ceremony. The bodies of the two women and three girls who died will be buried in their home village in Turkey tomorrow; the funeral will be attended by the Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel.

Discussions over dual citizenship continue, in the wake of the killings. Turks say dual citizenship would help integration. Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, of the Free Democrats (junior party in the government coalition), with responsibility for foreigners, argued for 'immediate action and no further delays'.

Demonstrations continued yesterday. In Hamburg, an extreme-left group destroyed cars, burned barricades and smashed windows after a peaceful protest by several thousand people. Police detained 20 people, and up to 10 police officers and a journalist were injured by flying rocks.

The prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe suggested that the boy of 16 in custody may be the sole suspect. On Tuesday, investigators had released photofit descriptions of four skinheads being sought on the basis of information from him. That was later deemed misleading and the appeal was withdrawn.

Passport to peace, page 26

Letters, page 27