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Riot Follows Funeral for Turks in Germany

June 04, 1993|TAMARA JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COLOGNE, Germany — Hundreds of angry mourners shouted "Nazi swine!" and rampaged through the streets Thursday after a politically volatile funeral for five Turkish women and children killed in the latest racist firebombing.

Speaking over the jeers of demonstrators outside, President Richard von Weizsaecker told mourners at Cologne's main mosque that all Germans share responsibility for the right-wing violence posing "a danger to our civilization."

About 300 young demonstrators charged through the streets following the service, smashing shop windows, tipping over cars and plundering shops before 1,300 police deployed for the funeral restored order. Twenty-two arrests were reported and one policeman was injured.

It was the fifth straight day of violence since the arson attack last Saturday on a Turkish home in the western city of Solingen.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government said violence will not be tolerated "from any quarter" and threatened to deport any foreigners caught breaking the law in what appeared to be a blunt warning to vengeful young Turks.

Kohl refused to attend the outdoor service at the mosque but sent a wreath instead, enraging critics who accuse him of trying to placate right-wing voters in the run-up to next year's national elections.

A 16-year-old boy remained in custody on charges of setting the fire that killed three girls and two young women, and prosecutors did not rule out the possibility of additional arrests.

There were conflicting reports whether the fatherless teen-ager had ties to any organized skinhead or neo-Nazi groups.

The tragedy came as two other German teens were standing trial in northern Germany for an arson attack that killed three Turks last December in Moelln.

"It is a shame for mankind that there are people in our time who dare to kill others just because of their nationality," said Akin Goenen, a Turkish government spokesman attending the funeral.

He called on the German government to "take more sufficient steps" against the "right-wing terrorists."

The Solingen attack was the bloodiest to date in a wave of right-wing violence that has left eight people dead so far this year.

Authorities report more than 700 incidents of right-wing violence since January.

Mourners packed inside the mosque courtyard wept as a Muslim cleric prayed over the five caskets draped with red-and-white Turkish flags. At one point, a grief-racked relative leaped up and tearfully shouted something in Turkish before being soothed by other mourners.

Outside, hundreds--mostly young Turkish men--booed, drowning out the words of both the German politicians and the Turkish government representatives attending the service. Angry crowds jeered at a separate ceremony in Solingen.

The bodies of the five victims were flown to their Turkish hometown for burial today. The five were all from one family that has lived in Germany for 23 years. The youngest victims, aged 4, 9 and 12, were born here.

Times researchers Reane Oppl and Ulrich Seibert in Bonn contributed to this report.

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