UPDATE – Turkey's US envoy condemns attack on Turkish restaurant

ADDS STATEMENT BY TURKEY'S CONSUL GENERAL IN LOS ANGELES, STATEMENT BY COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS, BACKGROUND

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – Turkey's US envoy on Thursday strongly condemned an attack on a Turkish restaurant in California, calling on federal and local authorities to protect Turkish Americans there.

Ambassador Serdar Kilic's remarks came a day after a group of extremist Armenians attacked the Istanbul Cafe restaurant, located in Beverly Hills in the Los Angeles metro area.

In a statement, the police department there called the attack a "hate crime."

According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, a group of six to eight males entered the restaurant, made pro-Armenia comments, destroyed property, and physically attacked its employees.

On Twitter, Kilic called on federal and local authorities there to "protect the rights of Turkish Americans and punish the culprits."

-‘Hate crime’

In a subsequent tweet, Kilic called on LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to condemn the "racially motivated hate crime" by extremist Armenians, saying "members of the Turkish American Community in Los Angeles who are also your constituents expect you to stand by them now."

Can Oguz, Turkey's consul general in Los Angeles, said he visited the Istanbul Cafe "immediately upon receiving the news of a racially motivated attack," and expressed his solidarity and support.

"I strongly condemn this hate attack, which came on the heels of increasing statements and protests against Turkey and the Turkish community in Los Angeles," Oguz said in a statement.

"That such a brazen attack could take place in the heart of Beverly Hills (and Los Angeles for that matter) is extremely concerning for the Turkish community of Los Angeles," he added.

Oguz called for Beverly Hills Police Department to investigate the incident with "extreme seriousness and diligence," adding: "We sincerely hope [for] the perpetrators to be identified and brought to justice."

-‘Terrorized and shaken’

Beverly Hills Mayor Lester Friedman called the assault an "unacceptable act of hate and violence."

"There is no place in our city for this behavior and we ask members of the public to please come forward with any information on the suspects in this case," said Friedman.

The Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) condemned the attack, calling for law enforcement to investigate it as a hate crime and for the perpetrators to be arrested and charged as such.

"We express our sympathies to the owners and patrons of the restaurant who were attacked and to the local Turkish-American community, which has been terrorized and shaken by this hateful assault," Hussam Ayloush, the head of CAIR-LA, said in a statement.

"The level of viciousness shown in the video is both outrageous and sickening. No individual or their business should be targeted in a manner such as this. We urge fellow Californians not to allow international conflicts to undermine harmony and the safety of any community here in our country," he added.

The attack comes amid a conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Upper Karabakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), a piece of Azerbaijani territory illegally occupied by Armenian for nearly 30 years.

Since the current conflict began on Sept. 27, Turkey has steadfastly supported Azerbaijan’s liberation of its territory, amid numerous Armenian attacks on civilians and cease-fire violations.

This July, before the current conflict flared up, a large group of Armenians in Los Angeles attacked and injured a much smaller group of Azerbaijanis and Turks who were peacefully protesting recent Armenian aggression on border towns of Azerbaijan.

*Ovunc Kutlu contributed to this report

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