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Kurds in Paris believe a recent shooting at a cultural center was an act of terrorism

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:

It's been a violent weekend in Paris. It opened with a gunman, who had already served time for a racist attack against migrants, firing on a Kurdish cultural center. Last night, members of the Kurdish community in Paris marched in response. Here's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: On Friday morning, in the bustling center of Paris, a retired French train worker pulled out a Colt .45 and fired it into a Kurdish cultural center. Three people died and several were hospitalized.

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GERALD DARMANIN: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the man clearly wanted to attack foreigners, but had acted alone, and had probably not specifically targeted Kurds. But the large Kurdish community in Paris disagrees. Thousands of Kurds, anti-racist activists and far-left politicians gathered on Christmas Eve to protest the violence and denounce the French government for not doing enough to protect its Kurdish community. Simon Sulejmani is a Kurdish activist who has received political asylum in France.

SIMON SULEJMANI: This is not a normal racist attack against any refugees here. And the Kurds are believing that this is made and organized by the Turkish government.

BEARDSLEY: Turkey's army has been battling against Kurdish militants who have long wanted their own homeland. But French authorities, so far, see no link between Turkey and these murders. Still, the killings came just as the Kurds were preparing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the unresolved murder of three other Kurdish activists in Paris. Late Saturday, the assailant was transferred from prison to a psychiatric institute, when an examining doctor deemed he was not mentally stable. The Paris protests degenerated into violence, with cars overturned and shop windows smashed. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.