Over a hundred Turks took to the streets near the city of Lyon in southeast France on Wednesday to protest an alleged attack on ethnic Turks by Armenians.
The demonstrators waved Turkish flags as they marched through an Armenian neighbourhood in the Décines commune, according to a video posted on Twitter by Mané Alexnian, a journalist at French TV broadcaster TF1.
The group chanted slogans such as “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic), “Where are you the Armenians?”, “F*** Armenia, we will f*** you!” and “It’s Turkey here”, Turkish news website Gazette Duvar reported.
The regional authorities said overnight Wednesday that police dispersed the “illegal gathering that was organised by the Turkish community to target the Armenian community”.
The demonstration took place after pro-Armenian protesters blocked a highway near Lyon earlier on Wednesday. They attacked people who were going to work and at least four Turks were injured, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported, citing eyewitnesses. Pro-Armenian social media users said that the Turks started the brawl, after which one Armenian was hospitalised.
The pro-Armenian protesters were demonstrating against a conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which Turkey has sided with Azerbaijan against Armenian separatists. Nagorno-Karabakh is situated within Azerbaijan’s borders but controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Emre Ocak, owner of a Lyon-based company in the construction sector, told Euronews that the Turkish protest did not come as a surprise since many Turks live in the region and most of them are very patriotic.
“A busy Turkish community lives in that area, and hundreds of construction workers use the roads at that time,” he said. “In other words, it was almost impossible for the Turks and Armenians not to meet at that moment. In addition, the vast majority of Turks living in this region are nationalists and are very frugal and committed to each other.”