FRANCE— On Monday, November 2, France’s Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, announced to legislators that he would be seeking the dissolution of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves.

The Grey Wolves “deserve to be dissolved, meaning the directors can no longer meet, claim to meet, or take action on their behalf, or if they do so they can be fined,” said Darmanin.

The Grey Wolves, or the Idealist Hearths, is a Turkish far-right youth organization affiliated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of Devlet Bahceli which has a political alliance with Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). The Grey Wolves have been called ultranationalistic, Islamistic and neo-fascistic.

The vandalized Armenian Genocide Memorial in Lyon, France. Photo courtesy of @prefetrhone via Twitter.

The dissolution was sparked by the defacing and vandalization of the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Décines-Charpieu, Lyon over the weekend. Spray painted on the memorial was “LOUP GRIS” (Grey Wolves), “RTE” (the initials of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) and “M**** Armeniens” (F*** Armenians).

Identically, “RTE,” “1915,” and a heart were tagged on the walls of the Armenian Consulate in Lyon.

On October 28, French-Armenians were engaging in civil disobedience by blocking traffic to protest alleged Azerbaijani aggression in Artsakh. Turks, armed with hammers and knives, attacked the Armenian protests. One young male protester fell unconscious after being struck in the head with a hammer. Violence then ensued among the protesters and attackers.

That very evening, Le Syndicat Indépendant des Commissaires de Police, reported that in Vienna, over 150 Turks “lead a punitive expedition in search of Armenians in the city.” 

The targeting of Armenians emerged with the war in Artsakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the latter nation of which Turkey supports.

France and Turkey have been at odds over issues like the civil war in Libya and energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ties between the two deteriorated greatly in the aftermath of the murder of Samuel Paty on October 16. He was beheaded by an 18-year-old of Chechen origin who was seeking to avenge Paty’s use of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom.

French President Macron spoke up on countering Islamist extremism, which prompted Turkish President Erdoğan to question Macron’s mental health and call for a boycott of French products.

Certain European countries have already taken action against the Grey Wolves, though none have banned it entirely. In Austria, the Grey Wolves’ salute was banned in 2019 and in Germany, the domestic security agency has labeled the group as far-right extremist.