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Grey Wolves: Far-right group to be banned in France


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image captionThe memorial to the Armenian genocide was vandalised last weekend

France is banning the far-right Turkish group Grey Wolves after a memorial to the Armenian genocide near Lyon was defaced with pro-Turkish slogans.

The Grey Wolves, an international organisation, is seen as allied to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The memorial was daubed with yellow graffiti over the weekend that included Mr Erdogan’s initials.

It comes amid growing tensions between France and Turkey over a territorial dispute in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in September. The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but it is controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Turkey has backed Azerbaijan in the conflict.

The move to ban the Grey Wolves will be put to the French cabinet on Wednesday.

The ban will mean that any activities or meetings by the group could lead to fines or imprisonment, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

As the group is an international organisation, the ban will only restrict its activities in France.

Images of the memorial just outside Lyon showed yellow graffiti featuring the Grey Wolves’ name alongside the letters “RTE” – for Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Last week, four people outside Lyon were wounded in fights between suspected Turkish nationalists and Armenians protesting against Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to AFP news agency.

Tensions between France and Turkey also intensified recently after French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to defend secular values and fight radical Islam.

Responding to Mr Macron’s comments, Mr Erdogan said the French president needed a mental health check.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad can cause serious offence to Muslims because Islamic tradition explicitly forbids images of Muhammad and Allah (God).

Last week, Turkey vowed to take “legal, diplomatic actions” over a cartoon of Mr Erdogan that appeared on the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The cartoon depicted Turkey’s president lifting the dress of a veiled woman.

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