Turkish expatriate in Germany attacked over Gülen links in apparent hate crime

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A Turkish man who has been residing in Germany for 41 years was attacked in an apparent hate crime by the Turkish owner of a kebab shop in Kamen, North Rhine-Westphalia, due to his links to the Gülen movement, the Kronos news website reported on Wednesday.

According to Kronos, 59-year-old Ramazan Yılmazer was physically attacked by Rıfat Yılmaz, the owner of Özay’s Kebab Haus in Kamen, where he went to have dinner with his daughter and son-in-law more than a year after the last time had eaten there.

Yılmazer told Kronos that upon entering the shop, he asked Yılmaz about its owner, whom he had known for years, and found that Yılmaz had recently taken over the shop. He then asked him about an employee named Yetiş, and Yılmaz answered: “I fired them all, I can’t work with guys like that. The man was a FETÖ member, that’s a terrorist, you know.”

FETÖ is a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, as a terrorist organization.

Yılmazer continued: “I told him, ‘I don’t know you, but I’ve known those people for 30 years. Did they use violence against you? Were they engaged in any armed acts? How can you talk [about them] like that?’ Then, he replied, ‘So you are one of them,’ [and] he started swearing. He got really aggressive.”

On his way out of the shop, Yılmazer also told the attacker, “You can’t label people as terrorists. We all live in Europe. Terrorism has a definition. Besides, I’m a customer. I came here to buy a kebab, not to listen to insults.”

According to Kronos, Yılmaz then started swearing at his family, came out from behind the counter and attacked Yılmazer, who had some of his front teeth broken as a result of the assault.

When the police arrived, Yılmaz complained to them about Yılmazer, saying he was afraid of him because he was a terrorist, but the officers paid no attention to his claims, Kronos said, citing Yılmazer.

After filing a police report, Yılmazer also went to the hospital to get a medical report, where he was advised to leave immediately since Yılmaz has a large family that nobody wanted to mess with.

“[But] I’m not the guilty one. I am not the attacker. Germany is a state of law. I’ll seek my rights in court,” Yılmaz said.

Saying that he had been attacked by racists in Germany back in 1996 and was now being targeted by supporters of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, Yılmaz described his links to the Gülen movement as follows: “I’m only a transporter [by profession]. I’m not a manager in any association or foundation [affiliated with the movement]. I support [Gülenists’] educational and cultural activities voluntarily.”

The Gülen movement is a worldwide civic initiative rooted in the spiritual and humanistic tradition of Islam. The bases of the movement are diverse service projects that are initiated, funded and conducted by people who are motivated by Gülen’s humanitarian discourse.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, implicating then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He locked up thousands, including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Followers of the movement have been targets of hate speech, hate crimes, unlawful prosecution, torture and abductions among other serious human rights violations.

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