Germany, Turkey shocked by xenophobic murders

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A series of revelations exposing the murders of nine immigrants of Turkish and Greek descent carried out between 2000 and 2006 has shocked Germany and galvanised a wave of resentment across Turkey. EURACTIV Turkey contributed to this report. 

The cold-blooded murders of nine immigrant shopkeepers by neo-Nazis is an "inconceivable" crime and a national disgrace for Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday (14 November).

The bodies of two suspects in the so-called "Kebab murders" were found last week in a burning camping van in Eastern Germany. All the victims ran ethnic fast-food restaurants.

Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlo, suspects in a bank robbery before they were implicated in the killings, apparently shot themselves, the police said.

Police said the two had urged their accomplice Beate Zschäpe to destroy potential evidence before committing suicide. Zschäpe turned herself over to the police on 11 November.

The police found a pistol identified as a murder weapons along with DVDs, including a 15-minute film by a group calling itself the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), in which the filmmaker appeared to stop at the sites of the nine Kebab murders. The body of one of the victims also is show.

The neo-Nazis also claimed responsibility for a 2004 bombing in Cologne, in which 22 people were wounded, almost all of them ethnic Turks. The video shows the presumed bomb before detonation.

The film, seen by journalists from Der Spiegel, is scored with the music from the Pink Panther cartoon series, in what the magazine describes as "a chilling mix of infantile and fascist aesthetics".

Clampdown on right-wing terror

Merkel vowed to leave no stone unturned in fighting right-wing violence, amid calls for her government to launch a fresh attempt to outlaw the far-right NPD party to prevent it from receiving taxpayer funds.

"We're seeing something inconceivable – we suspect right-wing extremists are responsible for horrible acts of violence, for right-wing terror. It's a disgrace and mortifying for Germany and we'll do everything we can to get to the bottom of this. We owe that to the victims," Merkel said, as quoted by Reuters.

NPD has seats in two regional state assemblies. It received €1.06 million for political party financing from taxpayers in 2010. The constitutional court in Karlsruhe thwarted a previous government attempt to ban NPD because evidence used had come from paid informants and was thus deemed tainted.

The issue could become even more embarrassing if alleged links between the NSU and the German domestic intelligence service, or BfV, are confirmed. The daily Bild wrote that the passports found on the bodies of the suspects were of a type that is issued for BfV officers.

Bild also quoted a former BfV agent saying, "This kind of cell cannot be kept secret. Intelligence agencies must have known its existence for a long time."

Germans were shocked that a possible link to neo-Nazis was evidently not considered during the investigations into the homicides, EURACTIV Germany reported. Also, many blame the police and especially the BfV, for failing to solve the crimes. Politicians have promised "brutal clarification" on the failure of the intelligence service.

Turkey’s outrage

Ahmet Külahç? wrote in the German edition of the Turkish daily Hürriyet that the relations between the extremist group and BfV is not surprising. Külahç? also wrote that the real reason for which the Federal Constitutional Court rejected the ban on NPD was that the intelligence service had planted spies in the party.

The Turkish government demanded a full investigation.

"It has been evident that our country and our citizens living in Germany were right to frequently warn about the extremist, racist and xenophobic tendencies and acts," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the government hoped that German officials would take every measure against these kinds of tendencies from now on.

Hürriyet quoted German Green party Co-Chairman Cem Özdemir as saying: "I was shocked that an extremist right-wing group was behind the 'Kebab murders'. If the murders were conducted by a right-wing terrorist cell in Thüringen, then it means that we are at a whole new level in terrorism, which threatens Germany seriously."

Hürriyet also quoted the Turkish Community of Germany Chairman Kenan Kolat as saying: "They are more organised now and there is a serious threat of terrorism. Racism is becoming a part of the centre and if measures are not taken against it, there will be serious consequences. Now we see the danger in front of us."

Turks want the relations between the murders and the German "'deep state' to be revealed," Kerem Çal??kan, EURACTIV Turkey's editor-in-chief, wrote in a commentary.

Germany's Turkish community has around 2.5 million members. In the 1960s, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France asked Turkey to provide a labour force for their booming employment markets. A flow of hundreds of thousands of Turkish 'guest workers' followed.

However, following the economic stagnation of 1967, Western countries stopped issuing work permits. Following the 1973 oil crisis, they declared that they had abolished immigration for employment purposes.

In October 2010, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that her country's attempts to create a multicultural society had "utterly failed," adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarising her conservative camp.

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