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COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Apparent Islamic State (IS/ISIS) sympathizers assaulted a group of Yezidis in the German city of Herford this week, police said, a repercussion of the war in Iraq a continent away.

The assault led to a larger clash, forcing police to send in reinforcements and use pepper spray to calm the situation.

Police said the assault on the German Yezidis was perpetrated by six men from Chechnya, who are apparent IS supporters.

 

 

The incident reportedly happened after the Yezidi owner of a pizzeria hung a poster in his restaurant window to support a demonstration against IS attacks in Iraq.

 

According to police, six Chechens provoked by the poster tried to forcibly remove it, beginning a scuffle with the owner and four other Yezidis. The 31-old owner and a 16-year old student were slightly injured by knife wounds.

 

Six people – five ethnic Chechens and a German convert to Islam -- were arrested after the fight, all known to the police. According to German media, two of the arrested persons are “leading Salafist operatives” who were being monitored by German intelligence.

 

The singer Hadi Shingali, related to the owner of the pizzeria, confirmed the German media version of the incident. Around 100,000 Yezidis live in Germany, of whom many fled abroad because of persecution in their homeland.

 

"Now we also feel unsafe in Europe if such fanatics also attack us here," Shingali said, stressing that the war in Iraq is not just between Yezidis and the militants.

 

"On the contrary, the ISIS is against all Kurds and all Muslims who do not think like them. At our demonstrations against ISIS many of the participants are Muslim Kurds."

 

The owner of the pizzeria would not speak to the media, but Firyal Khalaf, a relative, told Rudaw: "Now we have found out that ISIS sympathizers live so close to us. It's scary."

 

The attack has renewed a debate in the German media about potential terrorist threats.

 

The media focus has been on a 27-year-old Germany Salafist named Silvio K., who was born in the eastern state of Saxony but is now fighting with IS in Syria. He is also being sought by an international arrest warrant, and on Internet postings has threatened his old neighbors in Solingen with attacks.  

 

That has alarmed German authorities, who fear that up to 400 German jihadists fighting in Syria will return to terrorism in Germany.

 

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper wrote that the attacks in Herford show that “Qaraqosh, Sinjar (Shingal) and Herford are now inseparable.”

 

According to Telim Tolan, a spokesman for the Yezidi Central Council in Germany, this is the first attack of its kind on Yezidis in Germany. 

 

"We do not need a second battlefield here,” he said. 

 

The news about the attack on the Yezidi establishment spread quickly through Facebook and other social media, and another clash ensued with bottles, rocks and wooden boards, after Yezidis rushed to the scene. 

 

More than 100 police reinforcements, called in to restore order, used pepper spray to keep the two groups apart, confiscated makeshift weapons that included a firearm and questioned 86 people.

 

Joachim Stamp, an MP in North Rhine-Westphalia, urged the authorities to take "tough" action against all IS supporters and send a signal that there is “zero tolerance for violent religious extremists” in Germany.

 

“It can’t be true that Yezidis, who want to demonstrate against the mass murder of their fellow believers, are attacked on the street by IS sympathizers. We need quick investigation and severe punishment,” he told the German newspaper W Z Newsline.

 

Khalaf backed those remarks: "ISIS sympathizers have nothing to do in a democracy. If they want a caliphate, they can travel away from Germany and to their desired communities in the Middle East, where they belong."

 

 

 

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