The Grey Wolves, these Turkish nationalists linked to Erdogan and banned in France

The Grey Wolves, these Turkish nationalists linked to Erdogan and banned in France

Three fingers joined together with the index and little fingers raised in the air, to draw the profile of a wolf. Turkish defender Merih Demiral, who scored twice against Austria (2-1) in Leipzig in the round of 16 of Euro 2024, provoked strong reactions by making the rallying gesture of the “Grey Wolves”, a group of the Turkish far right, after scoring one of his goals.

He is the subject of an investigation by UEFA on Wednesday 3 July, a procedure vilified by Turkey, which has summoned the German ambassador to Ankara. Berlin has responded by doing the same.

“Our guide is the Quran, our goal is Turan”

The “Grey Wolves” emerged in Turkey in the late 1960s under the name of “Idealist Homes” to defend Pan-Turkism. Their motto is explicit: “Our guide is the Quran, our goal is Turan,” that is, the gathering of all Turkish speakers around the world. They correspond to the youth branch of the MHP (Nationalist Action Party).

They are distinguished by their xenophobia and their hostility towards minorities, notably Armenians and Alevis, considered as internal “enemies”. Very present in Anatolia, they were for example at the origin of the Kahramanmaraş massacre in 1978, which left more than 100 dead among the Alevi minority.

The Grey Wolves are accused of killing many left-wing activists in the 1970s. It was also one of their own, Mehmet Ali Agca, who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981. They gained influence from the 2000s, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power. While the MHP was initially an opponent of the AKP, the two parties have been allies in the government since 2018 and the themes of political Islam have merged into the pan-Turkist discourse.

Attack on Armenians

In Europe, the movement first established itself in Germany, in Frankfurt, at the end of the 1970s, taking advantage of the establishment of a large Turkish diaspora.

In France, their exact number is unknown, because the movement cultivates a semi-clandestinity and is drowned in the mass of 500,000 members of the Turkish community, and the Franco-Turks. The Grey Wolves then became known for their attacks targeting the Armenian community. Thus, a parliamentary inquiry indicates that the Grey Wolves organized eleven attacks on French soil against Armenian targets in 1983. Again, in 2006, in Lyon, clashes broke out on the occasion of the inauguration of a memorial to the Armenian genocide.

In October 2020, in the midst of the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijan supported by Turkey and Armenia, Grey Wolves organized a punitive expedition against the Armenians of Décines-Charpieu in the Rhône, nicknamed “Little Armenia”. Some 250 young men banged on the doors of the inhabitants shouting” God is great “.

The words ” grey Wolf “ are also tagged on the National Center of Armenian Memory in Décines, alongside the letters “RTE”the initials of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF) had then denounced a “Armenian hunt”.

Violence that led Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to dissolve the Grey Wolves, in a context of tensions between Paris and Ankara. This is“a particularly aggressive group, to say the least”, believes Gérald Darmanin.

Indeed, although they have no legal status in France, their members meet and act as an organized group. The group’s unofficial leader, Ahmet Cetin, was convicted in November 2020 of inciting racial hatred.

A European Parliament report, adopted in 2021, recommends that the Grey Wolves be placed on the list of terrorist organisations.

Similar Posts