Chinese restaurant in Turkey attacked after diplomatic spat

The owner of the restaurant, Cihan Yavuz - who is Turkish and investing his life savings in the restaurant, and even employs an Uighur cook - said the attack was baseless (Photo courtesy of DHA)

A Chinese restaurant in Istanbul was attacked on Wednesday and had its windows smashed by a group protesting against China’s suppression of its Muslim Uighur minority.

The owner of the restaurant, Cihan Yavuz - who is Turkish and investing his life savings in the restaurant, and even employs an Uighur cook - said the attack was baseless.

Yavuz told the local Hurriyet daily that “only a tiny portion of our customers are made up of Chinese customers. We do not serve alcoholic drinks. Although we work with Muslims, an attack like this has occurred.”

Recalling the attack, Yavuz said that six attackers had told them to leave the neighborhood, shouting “We do not want a Chinese restaurant here.”

The eatery, called “Happy China,” will be closing down.

The attack comes during the same week of a spat between the Turkish and Chinese government over Ankara’s protestations that China’s Uighur minority was being suppressed by authorities.

Uighurs complain that the officially atheistic ruling Communist Party forbids fasting by party members, civil servants, teachers and students during Ramadan. Children are also banned from attending mosques, women from wearing veils and young men from growing beards.

On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey’s concerns about the restrictions had been relayed to the Chinese ambassador.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that Beijing had expressed its concerns to Turkey’s government. She says Beijing demanded that Ankara clarify the matter.

On the same day, a Turkey-based Uighur group said that 173 women and children from the minority have arrived from Thailand where they were being held after fleeing China, the Associated Press.

Turkey has linguistic and ethnic ties to the Uighurs and had been trying to convince Thailand and China to allow the group to settle in Turkey. They had faced deportation to China.

Seyit Tumturk, deputy head of the World Uighur Congress, said Wednesday that the 173 were among a group of 250 Uighurs held in Thai camps and hoped the remaining refugees would also be allowed to leave Thailand.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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