Turks fear anti-Islamic hate behind murders

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The Independent Online
Turkey's Islamist-led government pressed for more information yesterday about a spate of arson attacks which have killed nine Turks in Germany and the Netherlands in the last 10 days. "I am telling the West, come to your senses, stop this violence, be human," the Turkish Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, told members of his ruling Welfare Party onTuesday.

Dutch and German police said it was too soon to conclude that the two worst arson attacks, in The Hague and in the west German town of Krefeld, had been motivated by racism or anti-Islamic hatred.

The Dutch blaze killed a Turkish mother, Mahi Kosedag, and five of her children in her flat on 25 March. Three Turks, a mother and two teenagers, died in their flat in last Monday's German fire.

While some Turks living in western Europe have been the targets of native right-wing extremists in recent years, other incidents of anti-Turkish violence have been attributed to Kurdish activists involved in the 13- year-old war against the Turkish armed forces in south-eastern Turkey. Some Kurdish fighters see violence in European cities as a way of attracting attention to their cause.

However, Mr Erbakan linked the latest attacks to what he called the anti- Islamic propaganda filling the media and literature of Western countries. Pointing the finger of blame at Western governments, police and judicial authorities, he said: "You are responsible for these acts, because you are not giving the necessary punishment to those responsible."

The killings in The Hague provoked particular concern because of the long-standing reputation of the Dutch for tolerance.

"The thought that we could be dealing with arson with some ethnic motivation is dramatic. That would be an entirely new phenomenon in The Netherlands," said Wim Kok, the Prime Minister.