HomeShoppingPKK supporters target Turkish community across Belgium

PKK supporters target Turkish community across Belgium

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A weekend of violence spilled over into a new week for the Turkish community in Belgium as sympathizers of the PKK terrorist group targeted them. Following incidents in Limburg province where pro-PKK groups sought to provoke Turks in the region, new riots broke out in Liege overnight.

In Cheratte, a section of the town of Vise with a large Turkish population, the terrorist group’s supporters launched several attacks targeting a mosque and offices of Idealists’ Clubs, an association linked with Türkiye’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The group, comprised of masked people, chanted pro-PKK slogans and attacked houses, shops and cars of Turkish residents in Cheratte. Eyewitnesses claimed that the Belgian police did not intervene.

The riots followed further incidents outside the European Parliament building in Brussels where some 150 PKK supporters tried to force their way through police barricades. Police stopped the crowd, which was apparently planning to march through a street where Türkiye’s Brussels embassy is located.

On Sunday, PKK supporters sought to incite the Turkish community in Belgium’s Limburg. Local police used water cannons to control an altercation initiated by sympathizers of the group responsible for thousands of deaths in Türkiye.

The group shouted provocative slogans as they were passing through an area heavily populated by citizens of Turkish descent in the Heusden-Zolder district of Limburg, near the capital of Brussels. The group was returning from Nevruz celebrations and were carrying “flags” of the PKK.

Angered by the slogans, some Turks confronted the convoy. Police teams arrived at the scene, where some vehicles had been set on fire, forcing them to use water cannons to control the situation. Deputy Mayor Yasin Gül of Heusden-Zolder told Anadolu Agency (AA) that PKK sympathizers assaulted a citizen of Turkish descent while chanting provocative slogans. “We’ve been living here as Western European Turks for 60 years. We have never had such an incident in our municipality before,” Gül said. He said nearly one-fourth of the municipality’s population are of Turkish descent. Local authorities had already taken precautions in response to reports that PKK sympathizers from neighboring cities and countries were attending the Nevruz event, he added.

The incident also drew a reaction from Türkiye. Zafer Sırakaya, deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said Türkiye cannot remain silent in the face of the heinous attack in Limburg. Sırakaya phoned Aydın Kamalak who was injured in the attack to extend his get-well-soon wishes and pledged that they would closely follow the “judicial process regarding the supporters of terrorism over this attack.” Sırakaya said in a social media post that it was unacceptable that a person was barbarically attacked in the heart of Europe just because of his ethnic origin.

“Türkiye and the AK Party will continue fighting to ensure clear-cut, international sanctions are imposed against those dirty networks feeding on racist, discriminating, anti-Muslim thoughts,” he said.

Videos circulating on social media showed flames rising from a building housing “Ülkü Ocağı,” or the “Idealist Club,” after PKK supporters hurled Molotov cocktails at the building. Photos on social media also showed broken windows of a mosque attacked by the group.

Although it is recognized as a terrorist group by the European Union, the PKK finds support in European countries. The group’s supporters are allowed to hold mass rallies in major European cities. The PKK has also used the EU to bolster its financial resources and terrorist recruitment and as a safe haven for its leadership. Last July, Zübeyir Aydar and Adem Uzun, two senior figures of the PKK, appeared at a rally of supporters of the terrorist group in Brussels. The two men wanted by Türkiye joined the rally outside the building of the European Parliament, calling for the release of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the group. Demonstrators carried photos of Öcalan and banners reading “freedom” for the top terrorist, who is incarcerated on an island in Türkiye’s Marmara Sea. The rally was also attended by representatives of several municipalities across Europe and members of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Türkiye earlier issued an international arrest warrant for Aydar and Uzun. Both men have resided in Belgium for years but rarely appear in such public events. They were arrested in Belgium in 2010 on charges of financing the PKK but released on lack of evidence. They are also wanted by the U.S. on drug trafficking charges.

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