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Swedish Turkish leader resigns after "death to Armenians" speech

Published måndag 11 april 2016 kl 20.00
Armenian association says there must be zero tolerance
(2:24 min)
Sergels torg, Plattan
The speech took place at Stockholm's Sergels torg central square. Photo: Joakim Ståhl/TT

The deputy chair of Sweden's main Turkish association has resigned after criticism of his speech at the weekend when he called for death to Armenians.

Speaking to a crowd of a few dozen in central Stockholm Barbaros Leylani called for Turks to awake, and for death to what he called "the Armenian dogs".

The Armenian association in Sweden plans to report Barbaros Leylani to the police, says its chair Garlen Mansourian to Radio Sweden. He says this is not just important for his association, but for all of Sweden, and there needs to be zero tolerance for such statements.

He tells Radio Sweden that if similar statements kept being made then the conflict would intensify and take on another character. He says this is exactly what happened a hundred years ago.

The global Armenian community has long campaigned for the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War to be recognised as genocide, a position strongly resisted by the Turkish state.

The group Juridikfronten has already reported Barbaros Leylani for hate speech.

Another of those who has been quick to condemn the speech is Bahar Cetin, the chair of Sweden's Turkish Youth Association. 

She says to Radio Sweden she saw a video recording of the speech on the internet, and was upset, angry and shocked that the deputy chair of the Turkish association would express such racist views.

Her association, which is independent of the bigger association, was quick to condemn the speech in a Facebook post. She says that the statements by Mr Leylani negatively affect 50,000 Swedish-Turks who don't have anything to do with the speech.

"It leads to us Turks being painted as racists and fascists in the media and in society", she tells Radio Sweden. She says all Turkish people she's talked to about the statements have reacted against them, and wondered what Leylani thinks he's doing.

Mr Leylani has now resigned his position as deputy chairman of the Swedish Turkish association, and that organisation has distanced itself from him, saying to Radio Sweden that its main goal is to work for equal rights.

Bahar Cetin says she has not experienced problems between Armenians and Turks in Sweden, but with the recent flare up of fighting between Armenia, and Turkish-allied Azerbaijan, the conflict there has been brought to Sweden.

She says it is very negative and creates divisions between Turks and Armenians.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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