Twenty-five years after the arson attack by the extreme right in Solingen, Foreign Minister Maas, together with his Turkish counterpart Çavuşoğlu, commemorated the victims and called upon people to stand up against intolerance. “We can all do something to combat discrimination, xenophobia and racism,” Maas declared in Solingen. He appealed to his audience to work decisively each day anew to promote solidarity, diversity and tolerance in Germany and throughout the world.
Five girls and women of Turkish origin were killed in the arson attack on 29 May 1993. The perpetrators had links with the extreme right. In Solingen, a memorial consisting of several thousand metal rings stands as a reminder of the attack. The rings are engraved with the names of institutions and citizens who work to promote social cohesion and discourage radicalism. At the memorial ceremony, two rings bearing the names of Foreign Minister Maas and his opposite number Çavuşoğlu were added to the sculpture.
“Part of our country”
Maas emphasised that people with Turkish roots were not only welcome in Germany but were “part of our country”. The Foreign Minister went on to say that it was unacceptable that many people in Germany with a Turkish background still experienced discrimination. He declared that all forms of intolerance and extremism must be rigorously opposed.
As long as incendiary devices were hurled at mosques, young men wearing a kippah were attacked in broad daylight and homosexuals walking hand in hand were beaten up, he said, there was no reason to believe the danger had passed.
Maas stated that tackling differences with openness and dialogue was also a crucial aspect of foreign policy. He said that the differing positions of Turkey and Germany should not be a reason to reject acts of joint commemoration.