Turks march to remember ‘massacre’ dead

Thousands commemorate 20th anniversary of arson attack in Sivas, sparked by translation of The Satanic Verses.

    Thousands of mourners joined victims' relatives to remember 35 people killed in the so-called Sivas Massacre arson attack in Turkey 20 years ago.

    In the ceremony on Tuesday, victims' families carried photos of loved ones - mostly Alevi artists and intellectuals - killed when a mob attacked the Madimak Hotel in anger at a writer's translation of The Satanic Verses into Turkish. 

    Security was tight for the anniversary ceremony. Mourners were escorted to the site, and only families of the victims were allowed to pass through barricades and enter the hotel building - now a science and culture centre.

    Some families refused to enter, protesting against the fact that the 35 victims’ names were written on a memorial alongside the names of two members of the mob killed in the fire.

    The attack happened on July 2, 1993, as the intellectuals and artists gathered for a conference. The hotel was soon surrounded by a mob, angry the translation of Salman Rushdi's book by Aziz Nesin. After hours of protests the crowd set the hotel on fire. Nesin survived but 35 people were killed.

    A total of 31 people were sentenced to life in prison for the attack, but the case against five others had to be dropped when the charges against the suspects exceeded the statute of limitations.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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