Turkey on Nov. 4 vowed to deliver a "firm" response after France officially banned the Turkish ultranationalist organization the Gray Wolves.
"We stress that it is necessary to maintain the freedom of assembly and expression of Turkish community in France, within the context of universal human rights and regulations, and we will respond in the firmest way possible to this decision," said a statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Ankara's statement came after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the group's dissolution on Twitter. The minister shared the reason behind the ban, saying that it incites discrimination and hatred and is repeatedly involved in violent actions.
Le mouvement des « Loups gris » a été dissous en conseil des ministres, conformément aux instructions du Président de la République.— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 4, 2020
Comme le détaille le décret que j’ai présenté, il incite à la discrimination et à la haine et est impliqué dans des actions violentes. A lire? pic.twitter.com/b3qL7REDPo
Darmanin also said many of the violent acts of the group were led by Ahmet Çetin, a 23-year-old French-Turk who was tried in France for “inciting hatred” after publishing a video on Instagram in which he asked the Turkish government “to provide him with a weapon and 2,000 euros” and that “he would do what is necessary across France.”
The ban follows recent incidents in France involving the Gray Wolves group amid growing tensions between France and Turkey and over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
During the recent conflict, the group, which is linked to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) - a political ally of the ruling government in Turkey - became notorious for organizing “Hunt for Armenians” marches in France and for vandalizing the Armenian Genocide memorial.
"Allahu Akbar!", which means God is Great, was among the slogans chanted by the mob of around 150 people who took to the streets in Décines, a commune in the vicinity of Lyon, as well as "Where are you the Armenians?", "Fuck Armenia, we will fuck you!" and "It’s Turkey here!"
France 3 television reported that the Armenian memorial near Lyon was tagged with pro-Turkish slogans and inscriptions with the Gray Wolves’ name.
The banning of the group was urged by the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the Coordination Council of Armenian Organisations in France.
The Gray Wolves was established in the 1960s in Turkey by MHP as a militant wing and was responsible for triggering chaos in the streets in 1970s and 1980s when its members fought leftists and were responsible for many assassinations.
Their salute symbol, with the thumb touching the tips of the middle two fingers and the index and little fingers raised, is seen by many as neo-fascist and was banned in Austria last year. A ban has also been considered in Germany.
The Grey Wolves have active branches in European countries with a significant Turkish population, such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and France.Dozens of Turks storm Armenian neighborhoods, threaten residents in Lyon