Clea Skopeliti, The Independent, October 29, 2020
In one video shared by an independent Armenian outlet, people can be seen marching in Lyon with Turkish flags and chanting the phrase “allahu akbar”, meaning “God is the greatest”.
In the same piece of footage, a man can be heard saying in French: “Where are you Armenians? Where are you? We are here… sons of b*****s”.
Hundreds Of Turks & Azeris Take To The Streets In Lyon, France Looking For Armenians. pic.twitter.com/qq0545nGvP
— Zartonk Media (@ZartonkMedia) October 28, 2020
The Independent Union of Police Commissioners (SICP) also shared footage from an incident in Vienne, a town located 35 kilometres (22 miles) south of Lyon.
The SICP said: “That evening at Vienne, Turks lead a punitive expedition in search of Armenians in the city. They cross paths with and attack a crew of the National Police of Isère. Our colleagues once again showed composure and courage in the face of 150 overexcited individuals.”
It follows clashes between members of France’s Turkish and Armenian communities on a motorway connecting Lyon and Marseille on Wednesday morning.
A demonstration of support for Armenia led to the blocking of the A7 motorway. Four were wounded after violence broke out, including a 23-year-old man who was hospitalised after received a hammer blow.
“An investigation is opened of the count of violence with weapon, entrusted to the police officers of the highway CRS,” said Audrey Quey, prosecutor of the Republic of Vienne.
The clashes and rising tensions between members of diaspora communities in France comes amid the conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan view the disputed area, which is an Armenian-controlled breakaway region located inside internationally recognised Azerbaijan, as their own.
The conflict has its origins in Armenian nationalist movements in the USSR during the early 1980s. In 1988, the region’s ethnic Armenian majority demanded that the territory be transferred from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia. The process eventually resulted in a contested independence referendum and war.