Canadian Turkish group fears violence
May 24, 2008
By GLENN KAUTH, SUN MEDIA
The head of the city's Turkish association is bracing for more violence after a bloody fight between rival groups at a west-end cafe.
Police have now ruled that the fight that sent three customers of the Ankara Cafe to hospital wasn't ethnically motivated. Tan, however, believes otherwise.
"There is a political issue behind it, definitely," he said.
"It has a Turkish-Kurdish relation as well, definitely."
The attack happened around 4 p.m. Thursday when a group of up to 25 armed men stoned the cafe at 15960 109 Ave., breaking its window.
Angry Kurds blamed their fellow Turks for instigating the violence, but Ankara Cafe owner Tugay Doksuz said the fight actually began earlier as a heated discussion between a few people seated inside.
While Doksuz believes the incident was the first of its kind in Edmonton, Tan said growing Turkish and Kurdish immigration to the city, particularly from Toronto, has led to a number of skirmishes in recent months.
A few weeks ago, he noted, a minor fight broke out during a soccer game in which a Kurdish man insulted a player wearing the jersey of the Turkish national team.
Aggravating the situation is the large number of Turks and Kurds who come to Edmonton for construction work, leading to rivalries between firms bidding for jobs, Tan said.
In Turkey, the two groups have a history of animosity, particularly due to a bloody bid by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for self-rule in the country's southeast.
Canada has designated the PKK a terrorist organization, but Tan said the group has both members and sympathizers in Edmonton, including many who have moved here from Toronto.
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This reminds of the inter-racial clashes in Woodbridge, Ontario - a town just north of Toronto across Steeles avenue - in 2005 that left one South Asian youth dead. Italian immigrants first settled in the Rexdale area of Toronto in the post-war years. They eventually moved across Steeles Avenue into Woodbridge and now that town boasts a 50% Italian population. The void the Italians left in Rexdale was filled by South Asian immigration in the 1970s that continues to this day and neither group, Italian or South Asian, cares for the other.
This also reminds me of the Air India bombing, the largest mass murder in Canadian history, where Canadian Sikhs killed Canadian Hindus.
I am also reminded of the time in the 1990s when riot police were called to Mel Lastman Square to sustain order as tensions rose between Greek Canadians and Macedonian Canadians when erstwhile mayor of North York, Mel Lastman tried to raise the Macedonian flag.
If a Canadian is a Canadian then why do these ancestral animosities continue in this country? Why the ethnic tensions and occasional outbursts of violence?
Maybe we should smarten up and accept the fact that a Canadian is not a Canadian after all.