Europe

Germany shooting: 'It was a shock but not a surprise'

Candles, flowers and a sign with the slogan "Your tears are our tears" pictured near the scene of one of the shootings in Hanau, Germany Image copyright Getty Images

Germany is in shock after nine people were shot dead in the town of Hanau on Wednesday evening.

The attack, which targeted two shisha bars, is being treated by investigators as an act of far-right terrorism.

A number of the victims are reported to be of Kurdish descent.

The BBC's Outside Source Radio spoke to three German Kurds with links to the area about the attack in Hanau and how Germany deals with racism.

'A really hard situation for everyone to fathom'

Dastan was born in Mannheim and visited the Kurdish community centre in Hanau.

Image copyright Dastan Jasim

Everyone is just in shock.

You see really, really young boys and you know they're the friends of two of the men who were killed: they're outside the door in shock and some of them are crying.

We often gather at our Kurdish community centres because we're mourning for somebody, because every day people are dying in every part of Kurdistan.

Every day we have to hear really bad news and we gather and try to help each other, but to have a situation like this where something happened right around the corner - this is just really, really hard for everyone to fathom.

'Germany has to do a lot of homework'

Dilar grew up in Offenbach, another suburb of Frankfurt, and spends time between there and the UK.

Of course we're always shocked and upset when we hear news about attacks like this, especially racist attacks on communities like ours. But I never would have thought it would happen in a place like Hanau, which is very close to where I grew up.

My friends, cousins and people like us hang out in shisha bars all the time, so my first thought when I heard about the attack was: "Is it people that we know?" And apparently there are people that we know, that our communities know.

In terms of how people are received in Germany, in some ways it's getting worse, because what we've seen in the past few years is a normalisation of right-wing, racist ideology in mainstream politics and the media.

People like us - Dastan, Luqman and I, and all of the people who were killed - are not heard in mainstream German society.

So there's a very stereotypical way of portraying people, especially from the Middle East and North Africa - and I guess the attack on a shisha bar is very symbolic of that. It's a place where people go and expect to find people who look like us.

The question of racism is so taboo in Germany that whenever people try to say something - including about Islamophobia or anti-Semitism - there isn't a culture of debating these things.

Germany has to do a lot of homework.

'A shock but not a surprise'

Luqman, a journalist for a Kurdish newspaper, lives in another suburb of Frankfurt. A son of one of his colleagues was killed in the attack.

Image copyright Luqman Guldive

It was a shock, but not a surprise. I'm just mourning with the community, and I hope that the political discourse and all the mainstream media - how it handles such heinous, racist attacks - will change.

It's a very, very personal issue for me: I'm a political refugee. You try to find somewhere which is more secure for you and then your child gets killed in an attack.

I've been in Germany for 27 years. Kurden-Terror - Kurdish terror - is a standard word in German politics and mainstream media. If you use such vocabulary, you are dehumanising other groups and other communities, and this is done in Germany.

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