Why the Kurdish community blames Turkey for the Paris killings

On the 23rd of December 2022, 3 Kurds were shot dead in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, in Rue d’Enghien. The suspect admitted to the crime and has been charged and remanded in custody. He claims to have acted for racist reasons. Kurdish activists reject this theory and see Turkey behind the attack.
Image credit: Lewis Joly

The 23rd of December’s massacre in Paris

At 16 rue d’Enghien in Paris is located the Kurdish cultural centre, Ahmet Kaya. It was created in 2001 in order to promote Kurdish culture and to help the integration of Kurds in France. According to the Kurdish Institute of Paris, there are 250,000 Kurds in France today.

At 11.40am on the 23rd of December, William M, a 69-year-old man, opened fire in front of the Ahmet Kaya Kurdish cultural centre, which houses the CDKF (Democratic Centre of the Kurds of France). A man and a woman were killed on the spot. Another seriously injured man took refuge in a Kurdish restaurant opposite the cultural centre but died because of his injuries. After this first attack, the killer went up the street to a hairdresser’s salon with a large Kurdish clientele. He opened fire and wounded several people. The owner and customers of the salon managed to disarm him and subdue him. The police arrived, handcuffed him and took him into custody. At this point, no one knows why this man committed this crime.

William M., “a pathological hatred of foreigners”

William M. is a retired train driver who, according to him, suffers from a pathological hatred of foreigners. According to his entourage, he has completely changed since an attempted burglary at his home in 2016 by people of foreign origin. He has already been sentenced to 6 months in prison for possession of a prohibited weapon and for weapon violence. In December 2021, he attacked a migrant camp with a sword and was remanded in custody. 10 days after his release from pre-trial detention, he committed the “Rue d’Enghien killing”.

The killer knew this Kurdish cultural centre because his parents lived in the neighbourhood. Since, he had developed a fixation on the Kurds. He blamed them for not finishing off all the Daesh fighters they had captured during the war in Syria. Nevertheless, the Kurdish community does not seem to be his first target. He said he went to Saint-Denis on the morning of the 23rd of December where he wanted to attack the market. Believing that there were not enough people there and that his clothes were not adequate to quickly reload his weapons, he gave up and went to the Kurdish cultural centre.

Thus, given the profile of the killer, there is no real reason to believe that this is a political crime. Nevertheless, the Kurdish community mobilised directly, convinced that William M. was acting under Turkish orders.

Kurdish arguments to blame Turkey

Shortly after the attack, and during the speeches and demonstrations of the Kurdish community afterwards, the Kurds denounced the hand of Turkey in this crime. Indeed, the Kurdish community believes that there are a large number of coincidences that do not justify the hypothesis of a racist attack.

The Kurdish community does not accept the hypothesis of a racist attack, especially as the three victims of this killing are well-known personalities within the Kurdish community. Indeed, Emine Kara was a fighter who had taken up arms against Daesh in 2014 before emigrating to France. She had been in charge of the Kurdish women’s movement in France within the CDKF. On the 23rd of December, Emine Kara was on the scene because she was preparing a meeting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the triple murder of three Kurdish activists who were shot dead in the same neighbourhood on January 9, 2013.

The second victim of the 23rd of December killing was Mir Perwer, a 29-year-old singer. He had migrated illegally to France two years ago after being sentenced to a heavy prison term in Turkey for singing nationalist songs in Kurdish.

The third victim, Abdurahman Kizil, was an old regular at the centre and an activist for the Kurdish cause.

Thus, the targeting of prominent members of the community on a day of preparation for a commemoration ceremony makes the Kurds think that this is not a racist crime. Since the 24th of December, the Kurdish community of Paris has been demonstrating and declarations followed. In particular, the CDKF spokesperson Berivan Firat declared: “They are trying to make us believe that this is a racist murder, a murder committed by an unbalanced person. There is no way we can accept such a characterisation. The very fact of attacking the CDKF is a political act, a political action, a political assassination“.
Thus, after his statements, the Kurdish community can no longer deny the racist character of the attack. They believe that the killer was manipulated in prison by the Turkish secret services.

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