VIDEO: Turkish nationalists protesting China attack Korean tourists in Istanbul
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
A group nationalists who gathered in central Istanbul on July 4 to protest China’s restrictions on religious freedom of ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang attacked a group of Korean tourists, thinking that they were Chinese.
The attackers were among the participants of a march organized by the far-right “Idealist Hearths” (Ülkü Ocakları), which has close links with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to show solidarity with the Turkic Uighurs and protest China.
When the march that started in Beyazıt ended in Sultanahmet Square, a crowded group started running towards Topkapı Palace, with the aim of attacking a group of tourists they thought were Chinese.
The police intervened with the group and prevented them from attacking the tourists, who were in fact Koreans. The police used tear gas to disperse the nationalist group following the incident.
The relations between China and Turkey have been strained over Turkish media reports suggesting that Uighurs were being banned from worship and fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan.
China’s Istanbul Consulate denied the claims of oppression of Uighurs in a statement issued on July 3.
“The allegation that Muslims in Xinjiang are banned from practicing their religion, such as fasting during Ramadan or praying, does not comply with the truth and is baseless,” said the statement, adding that the Chinese constitution protects its citizens’ freedom of religion and faith.
Turkey this week summoned the Chinese ambassador to convey Turkey's concerns over the reports. Beijing in turn, expressed its displeasure with Turkey's complaint.