Members of France’s Kurdish community and others held a silent march Monday to honor three people killed in a shooting at a Kurdish cultural center in Paris that prosecutors said was motivated by racism.
Turkey summoned France’s ambassador on Monday over what it called “black propaganda” by Kurdish activists after the shooting. Some have marched in Paris with flags of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or suggested Turkey was linked to the shooting.
A 69-year-old Frenchman was charged Monday with racially motivated murder and weapons violations in Friday’s shooting, Paris prosecutors said. The suspect told investigators he had wanted to kill migrants or foreigners and then planned to kill himself, saying he had a “pathological” hatred of non-European foreigners, according to prosecutors.
He was placed in psychiatric care for a short time but then returned to ordinary police custody. The suspect’s name has not been officially released, although he is identified by French media as William K.
The shooting shocked and outraged the Kurdish population in France, which organized the silent march on Monday. Protesters marched from the site of Friday’s shooting to the site where three female Kurdish activists were found shot to death in 2013.
“Every day we ask ourselves when someone will shoot at us again. Ten years ago we were attacked in the heart of Paris, and 10 years later again,” said Dagan Dogan, a 22-year-old Kurd at Monday’s march. “Why was nothing done to protect us?”
The solemn march ended peacefully. skirmishes broke out in the neighborhood where the killings took place on Friday, and again alongside a mostly peaceful Kurdish-led demonstration on Saturday.
The prosecutor says the suspect had a clear racial motive for the shooting.
Anti-racism activists and left-wing politicians have linked it to a climate of online hate speech and anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric from far-right figures. The French government has reported an increase in racially or religiously related crimes and violations in recent years.
French authorities have called Friday’s attack an isolated incident, but some Kurdish activists in Paris believe it was politically motivated.
Turkey on Monday summoned French ambassador Herve Magro to convey concerns over what it called black propaganda being carried out against Turkey by Kurdish militant groups after the attack, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Turkey “expects France to act cautiously over the incident and not let the (banned PKK) terrorist organization advance its insidious agenda,” Anadolu reported.
The PKK has been waging an armed separatist insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 for independence, which has recently turned into demands for greater autonomy. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced many, with significant numbers of ethnic Kurds and alleged PKK supporters migrating to European countries.
Turkey’s army has been fighting Kurdish militants affiliated with the PKK in southeastern Turkey as well as in northern Iraq, and has recently launched a series of attacks on Syrian-Kurdish militant targets in northern Syria.
Turkey, the US and the EU consider the PKK a terrorist group, but Turkey accuses some European countries of leniency towards alleged PKK members. That frustration has been the main reason behind Turkey’s continued delay in NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.