Arson attempt on Turkish center in Austria, 2 arrested

Published 16.08.2016 00:00

Two suspects were arrested after they threw Molotov cocktails at the offices of a Turkish association in the Austrian city of Wels late on Sunday. The attack on the Avrasya Culture and Sports Association comes at a time of rising anti-Turkish sentiment in Austria fueled by far-right politicians. Police said the two suspects may have links to the PKK, and the head of the association complained that they were a target of both the PKK and far-right groups. Mustafa Arslantaş said the attack left some windows of the building shattered, but police said the Molotov cocktails did not light the building on fire.

"Turks currently face prejudice all across Europe. We are targeted by both the PKK and the far-right," Arslantaş said, without elaborating on threats they had received.

An investigation is underway into the motives of the arson attempt. Those of Turkish origin in Austria faced reaction from authorities after they staged rallies against the coup attempt on July 15 in Turkey. Austrian politicians criticized the demonstrations in favor of Turkey and a town banned the display of Turkish flags in residences.

Wels is governed by the anti-immigration Freedom Party of Norbert Hofer, a presidential candidate who is known for his staunch opposition to Turkey's European Union membership. Hofer said in a recent interview that Austria should remove citizenship for Turks after he questioned their "loyalty."

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