Mourners in Germany stepped up their calls on Monday for the state to honor a young woman who was killed after defending two teenage girls from a group of aggressors at a fast-food restaurant.
A petition on the Web site change.org had collected 150,000 signatures by Monday evening calling for Turkish student Tugce Albayrak to be awarded a German Federal Cross of Merit, the highest civilian commendation for service to the nation.
After a series of demonstrations and vigils over the weekend across the nation in Albayrak’s honor, a tribute page on Facebook had gathered almost 170,000 “likes.”
Her death even drew the condolences of German President Joachim Gauck, who told the woman’s family: Albayrak “will always be an example” and she had “won our gratitude and our respect.”
Though the young woman died on Friday last week — her 23rd birthday — Albayrak had been hospitalized since a violent confrontation overnight on Nov. 14 in a McDonald’s restaurant parking lot near Frankfurt.
She was in the restaurant in Offenbach, sitting at a table with friends, when she heard screaming coming from the toilets and went to help.
Albayrak found two intoxicated teens being harassed by a group of people and intervened, which prompted the assailants to turn on her, an investigation has revealed.
A few minutes later while in the parking lot, a man struck her in the head and knocked her to the ground. The injury left her in a coma from which she never emerged.
Using video surveillance footage, police identified and arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the attack.
German-language newspaper Bild reported that the suspect confessed to hitting Albayrak, but said it was “just a slap.”
Bild also published images on its Web site on Monday that it said showed the assault in the parking lot as a dozen people stood nearby.
However, police refused to authenticate the footage.
Preliminary autopsy results concluded that Albayrak’s death was linked to a “blunt shock” to the head, but investigators have not said whether it was due to the attacker hitting her or the subsequent fall.
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