Turks attacked as Kohl dithers

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THERE WERE four more overnight arson attacks against foreigners in different parts of Germany yesterday. By chance, nobody was badly hurt. But the continued attacks emphasised the inappropriateness of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's attempts to downplay the significance of the arson-killings of five Turks in Solingen 10 days ago. He has claimed that the killings were an isolated incident.

It was announced yesterday that Mr Kohl will give a statement in parliament next week, devoted to attacks on foreigners. So far, Mr Kohl has either minimised the importance of the attacks, or has mentioned them only in the same breath as the outbreaks of violence from a minority of Turks and extreme left-wing Germans, in recent days, warning that any Turks using violence may be deported.

His statement next week will show whether he is now ready to give a more thoughtful response, addressing the problems of German society itself. Even now, Mr Kohl seems unwilling to come out in favour of dual citizenship, which is seen by many German politicians, and by the overwhelming majority of Turks in Germany, as an important first step towards integrating Turks into German society.

Yesterday's catalogue of violence included attacks in the early hours. Near Dusseldorf, 14 Turks were taken to hospital, suffering from smoke poisoning, after two apartments in a house were set on fire. In Frankfurt, the staircase in a house lived in by Turks was set alight.

In Oberhausen-Rheinhausen, in south-western Germany, a fire was started in a Turkish restaurant and in the restaurant owner's apartment next door. In Hamburg, a fire was started in the cellar of a Turkish restaurant. North of Bremen, 30 Turkish youths ransacked a restaurant in a case of retaliatory violence.

Meanwhile, the trial of the two youths accused of the arson-killings of three Turks in the town of Molln, in November, plunged further into confusion. Rolf Bossi, the high-profile lawyer defending one of the accused, has announced that he is pulling out, because he does not believe that his client will get a fair hearing because of the 'pogrom mood' in the wake of the Solingen killings last month. His claims were described by a prosecuting lawyer as 'insulting and malicious' towards the court.