French police last week used tear gas to disperse a major gathering which included members of the Grey Wolves, a Turkish ultra-nationalist extremist group, who marched in Dijon shouting Islamist, anti-Macron, and anti-Armenian slogans.
Following the demonstration, which took place last Thursday in Dijon’s city center and saw a procession of 60 or so Turks shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “Terrorist Armenia”, along with insults aimed at French President Emmanuel Macron, authorities have opened an investigation into the matter, France Bleu reports.
Several videos of the march have been shared by social media users.
One social media user who claimed to be one of the demonstrators posted a video which showed marchers showing the Grey Wolves symbol. The video’s caption reads, “This evening Dijon was ours,” alongside a Turkish flag and wolf emojis.
Après Vienne c’est Decines ??? pic.twitter.com/hgzTrYK1Az
— Zülfikar? (@Zulfikar_bzkrt) October 28, 2020
Another video posted to social media shows the demonstrators shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
— Jim Cannolo (@CannoloJ) October 29, 2020
François Rebsamen, the mayor of Dijon and a member of the Socialist Party, condemned the incident in a statement, saying, “The religious slogans are unbearable, while France is in mourning, on the very day of the attack on the Basilica of Nice that claimed the lives of three people and sowed fear. I hope that this kind of demonstration, a real provocation against the Republic, will be banned.”
The center-right mayor of nearby Chalon-sur-Saône, Gilles Platret, also commented on the incident, saying: “Communitarianism is gaining ground once again in Dijon thanks tonight to an identitarian demonstration of the Turks against a background of religious cries, in the city center. What a pity to see after the inter-ethnic riots of this summer, this city so gangrenous!”
Tensions between Turks and Armenians in France had already been on the rise. On Oct. 28, Turkish nationalists armed with axes and knives attacked a procession of Armenian protesters in Lyon, France, resulting in ten injuries, one of which was serious.
Last Thursday’s demonstration in Dijon also took place just one day after members from the Grey Wolves marched in the city center of Décines-Charpieu, a suburb of Lyon, chanting Islamist, pro-Erdoğan slogans while also threatening Armenians, the French news outlet Lyon Mag reported. The Turkish ultra-nationalists could be heard shouting phrases like “Allahu Akbar”, “Fuck Armenia, we will fuck you”, and “Where are the Armenians?”
Non, mais regardez ce qui se passe à Décines. Des fascistes turcs sèment la terreur dans les quartiers arméniens. La France va très mal.pic.twitter.com/LrPm7QD1L4
— Bahar Kimyongür (@Kimyongur) October 28, 2020
— Avrυpalı Türĸler ?? (@Avrpli_Turkler) October 28, 2020
The Turkish government is widely believed to have involved itself in the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Shortly after the conflict broke out in late September, Armenian Ambassador to Moscow Vardan Toganyan accused Erdoğan’s government of importing Syrian jihadist mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed region where clashes are taking place.
Armenian’s Defense Ministry has also accused Ankara of providing air support for Azerbaijan army strikes. Over the weekend, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian called on Russia, which has a military base in the country and has signed pact obligating it to protect its ally against foreign military aggression, to provide security assistance.
In recent days, tensions between France and Turkey have reached worrying levels. Following statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron where he announced that the government would be cracking down on Islamic separatism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went so far as to suggest that he has mental health issues.
Macron’s statements on Islam in France have prompted widespread rage throughout the Muslim world. Last week, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, wrote that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people.”