About 150 people gathered in Berlin, Germany, today to attend a vigil commemorating Tugce Albayrak, a 23-year-old woman who died after she was beaten by a man she had just stood up to earlier for harassing two teen girls.
On November 15, Albayrak was in a McDonalds in Offenbach (near Frankfurt) when she heard cries for help from the restroom. Two teenage girls were being harassed by a group of men. Albayrak courageously and successfully intervened. But later on that night in the McDonald's parking lot, one of the men from the group of harassers attacked her in the parking lot. He struck her in the head, though it's unsure as to whether he used a bat or stone or other weapon, or if he punched her and she fell, hitting her head on a stone.
As a result of the attack, Albayrak was left in a coma—when doctors informed her parents she was braindead and would never regain consciousness, they decided to turn off her life support. It was her 23rd birthday.
Her attacker has been named as Senal M, and 18-year-old from Serbia. He has confessed to striking her, but has since kept mum ahead of his trial. He is expected to be charged with assault resulting in unintentional manslaughter.
While a petition for Albayrak to be posthumously honored with the nation's order of merit has gathered over 100,000 signatures, German President Joachim Gauck has praised her bravery, writing to her family, via BBC:
"Like countless citizens, I am shocked and appalled by this terrible act. Tugce has earned gratitude and respect from us all.
"She will always remain a role model to us, our entire country mourns with you.
"Where other people looked the other way, Tugce showed exemplary courage and moral fortitude."
Once again we are faced with the reality of doing the right thing. Once again we are faced with the reality of how unsafe it is for a woman to simply be and how much more unsafe it is for a woman stand up for what's right, and it will never get any less devastating. I wish the best to Albayrak's friends and family and hope that they find peace knowing that that woman is a hero.
Thank you, Tugce.
Image via BBC.