Germans Pay Tribute To Student Killed Helping Harrased Girls

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Tugce Albayrak suffered a punch to the head while defending two girls being harassed

Tugce Albayrak suffered a punch to the head while defending two girls being harassed

22-year-old Tugce Albayrak didn’t hesitate to run to the aid of two teenage girls being harassed by several men in a restaurant bathroom near Frankfurt, Germany, but her courageous act cost Tugce her life — one of the men returned and attacked her in the parking lot. She fell into a coma following the attack two weeks ago and, on her 23rd birthday last Friday, she was removed from life support after being pronounced brain dead. Now, over 150,000 people have signed a petition calling for Tugce to be awarded Germany’s National Order of Merit for her selfless act.

Thousands of people across Germany held vigils honoring Tugce on Sunday, including hundreds who gathered at the Oranienplatz in Berlin, holding signs written in German and Turkish praising her courage. The University of Giessen student was studying to become a German and ethics teacher. Tuğçe’s 18-year-old attacker has confessed to the crime and is now in police custody.

Vigil for Tugce Albayrak

Vigil for Tugce Albayrak

Photograph: Maurizio Gambarini/ Maurizio Gambarini/dpa/Corbis

In response to the petition asking him to honor Tugce, German President Joachim Gauck confirmed that he would consider the award. In a condolence letter to the Albayrak family, he wrote, “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, Tuğçe’ showed exemplary courage and moral fortitude.”

To sign the petition in support of this honor for Tugce for her courageous and compassionate act, visit the petition site at http://chn.ge/122kKgh