Race attack victims talk of 'exacting revenge': Adrian Bridge spoke to Turks in Berlin about the hardening desire for vengeance after last weekend's murders in Solingen

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The Independent Online
'IF that had been my mother, my wife, my daughter killed in that blaze, I would have demanded blood. Any neo-Nazi would have sufficed. No one should be able to commit that kind of outrage and live.'

Yilmaz, a 26-year-old fluent German-speaking Turk who, 21 years after moving to Berlin is still regarded as a foreigner in the city, counts himself among the moderates. His friends and colleagues in Berlin's numerous Turkish tea-houses are urging their countrymen to arm themselves in case they are attacked. The most radical have formed themselves into vigilante groups and are talking of exacting 'revenge' on the German people.

'The mood has turned much nastier,' said Yilmaz, a builder. 'After the killing of three Turks in Molln last November we were shocked, but ready to pray that it was just a one-off. After Solingen, we see that it wasn't. And, naturally, many of us are terrified. Where and when will they strike next?'

As in Solingen itself, thousands of Turks have taken to the streets of Berlin over the past three days to express their sorrow - and anger - over the deaths on Saturday of three Turkish women and two girls in the worst racially motivated attack in Germany since unification in 1990.

Unlike in Solingen, the protests here have not turned violent. But leaders of the city's 140,000-strong Turkish community are afraid that they will not be able to keep pent-up feelings of frustration and fury on the leash for much longer. 'If Molln was not enough, the government has now been given a clear warning that it has to act and act fast,' said Mustafa Cakmakoglu, the chairman of the Turkish Community in Berlin.

'We are desperately urging our members to remain calm and not to take the law into their own hands. Violence would only breed violence. But at the same time, such attacks have clearly got to stop.'

Along with the Turkish government, Mr Cakmakoglu is calling on Bonn to ban all extreme right-wing groups and for the courts to crack down mercilessly on racist offenders. Over and above such changes, he is demanding dual citizenship and voting rights for all Turks living here.

'Until the stigma of being considered foreign is removed we will always be easy targets,' he said. 'We need to be given equal rights - and then we will be treated more fairly, and taken more seriously.'

Of the 1.8 million Turks in Germany as a whole, fewer than 1 per cent have German citizenship. For many, the fact that they would have to give up their Turkish citizenship to acquire it is a strong disincentive. They are also put off by long bureaucratic delays, high charges and a frequently negative attitude towards their applications from the authorities.

'People forget that we were invited here in the Sixties to come and help build up this country,' said Yilmaz. 'We have worked hard for Germany. But now, more and more, I feel we are just hated.'

Leading article, page 17

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