She was a hero

Vigil for Tugce Albayrak

On Sunday, thousands of Germans paid tribute to Tuğçe Albayrak, a Turkish-German 23-year-old student who was murdered after rushing to the aid of two teenage girls being harassed by a group of men in the parking lot of a Mcdonald’s in Offenbach, Germany (near Frankfurt). Albayrak died last week from trauma to the head which was caused either by a bat or stone, or by hitting her head when she fell backwards on concrete. After the traumatic brain injury, she fell into a coma. On her 23rd birthday, Albayrak was pronounced brain dead consequently forcing her parents to turn off her life support machine on the anniversary of her birth.  Her alleged attacker, Sanel M, an 18-year-old Serbian, is in police custody.

Sane apparently had an accomplice who tried to hold him back as he began to attack Albayrak who had intervened earlier after she heard the screams coming from two teenage girls in the McDonald’s bathroom. Police are still trying to track down the girls. This weekend, hundreds gathered to pay their respects to Albayrak in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district which has a large Turkish population. The vigil is a civil courage one where her community held up her photograph with slogans and written tributes. People brought flowers and lit candles as a pianist played her favorite songs.

A petition has gathered about 100,000 signatures and been sent Joachim Gauck, Germany’s president, to encourage him to award the fallen hero a national order of merit posthumously. President Gauck wrote the family to assure them he is taking the petition seriously and to offer his warmest words. “Where other people looked the other way, your daughter showed exemplary courage and moral fortitude,” Gauck wrote.