French Ambassador to Turkey summoned to Ministry of Foreign Affairs over “anti-Turkish propaganda”

ANKARA — On Friday, 23 December, an attack took place on the Ahmet Kaya Kurdish Cultural Center and nearby restaurants and barbershops in Paris, killing three Kurdish activists and injuring three others. Those killed were spokesperson for the Kurdish women’s movement in France and a former commander of the Women’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin, YPJ) in North and East Syria Emine Kara, musician and political refugee Mir Perwer, and the activist Abdurrahman Kızıl.

After the attack, demonstrations took place in Paris demanding clarification about the circumstances of the attack. The demonstrations sometimes turned violent and destroyed windows, cars, and street infrastructure. French prosecutors suspect a racist motive, one that has been questioned by Kurdish organizations. They suspect involvement by the Turkish state and secret service, an accusation for which little evidence has been provided. French prosecutors do not believe there is a terroristic motive behind the attack.

Following the outcry of the Kurdish community blaming the Turkish state for the attacks, the ambassador of France in Ankara, Herve Magro, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to diplomatic sources, the Paris attack was discussed during the meeting and Turkish discomfort was expressed about the blame being placed on Turkey, Syriac newspaper Gazete Sabro reports.

French police arrested a 69-year-old man immediately after the attack on the cultural center in the tenth arrondissement. The man is known to the police and had just been released from custody following an attack he committed against a refugee camp. He has since been transferred to a psychiatric institution, French prosecutors said. The man confessed and was charged on Monday with murder out of racist sentiments, attempted murder, and the illegal acquisition and possession of weapons.

The recent attack has left the Kurdish community in Paris on edge. Their blaming Turkey for the attack is not surprising given the history of Turkish extremist and state violence targeting minority communities abroad. In January 2013, three women activist were murdered in broad daylight at a cafe in Paris. One of those killed was Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê, PKK). A Turkish suspect was arrested for the killings. He died in his French prison cell in December 2016. Following his death, French prosecutors closed the investigation. It was officially reopened in 2019.