Racist attacks by ultranationalist Turks in Belgium leave several Kurds seriously injured

A large group of ultranationalist Turks launched a racist attack on Kurdish families returning to their homes in the Belgian towns of Houthalen-Helchteren and Heusden-Zolder in Leuven after celebrating Nevruz on Sunday, leaving several of them injured, according to reports by Medya News and ANF English.

Nevruz is traditionally marked by Kurds in the second half of March as the first day of spring.
The reports said that a protest organized by several hundred Turks in response to the Nevruz celebration in Leuven’s Kessel-Lo district, which saw the participation of thousands, turned “very violent.”
The attackers reportedly vandalized vehicles and tried to force their way into a house in Heusden-Zolder, where dozens of people had taken shelter. According to witnesses, the attackers tried to set fire to the house, endangering around 40 people inside.
The attackers were also reported to have waved the Turkish flag and given the “wolf” hand salute, a gesture associated with ultranationalist Turkish organization the Grey Wolves, seen as the paramilitary wing of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The gravity of the situation led the police to intervene, resulting in 24-hour protection for the Kurdish homes.
At least six Kurds ended up in the hospital, some with serious injuries. Two of them are in critical condition, the reports said, citing Belgian police and the hospitals.
Witness accounts and video recordings have depicted a disturbing scene of the violence, which also included Kurds being viciously assaulted by multiple assailants and other Kurds lying on the ground while being insulted by Turkish attackers. The identities of some victims remain unknown.
Scharo Maroof, founder of the Kurdistan Monitor independent war crime monitoring project, on Sunday said 11 Turks in Heusden-Zolder who roamed the streets searching for Kurds found an elderly Kurdish man and brutally attacked him.
11 Turkish fascists roam the streets on a manhunt for Kurds, they found 1 elderly Kurdish man and 9 Turkish men brutally attack him.
Maroof also shared video footage of another incident where dozens of Turks chased after a group of young Kurds and managed to capture two of them. The group, armed with machetes, is seen attacking the two Kurds on the ground.
“I don’t doubt Scharo Maroof’s account of events: he’s reliable, and I know this dynamic between Turkish and Kurdish communities in Europe: Kurds don’t provoke, let alone start violence,” Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink, who used to work in Turkey, said in a tweet.
Some people claimed that the attacks targeting Kurds in Heusden-Zolder were “organized” since district mayor Yasin Gul had previously announced that he sympathized with the Grey Wolves. Gul spoke to Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk on Monday, giving a different account of events and saying the attacks were provoked by the Kurds.
Following the racist attacks, protests were held by Kurdish groups in the Swiss cities of Geneva and Bern.
Kurdish communities from several European countries on Monday gathered in front of the European Parliament in Brussels around noon upon a call by the European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E) to protest “the fascist attacks of the Turkish government.”
Kurds are Turkey’s largest ethnic minority, making up around 18 percent of the population. The group has faced a long history of discrimination and violence in the country. Hate crimes against Kurds have increased in Turkey in the recent past. The Kurds are mainly accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in the country’s southeast since 1984.

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