“We cannot exclude any cause of fire,” Lothar Liebig, the director of the public prosecutor’s office, told Tagesspiegel.
Two Turkish girls have reported seeing a man in the building’s corridor setting a baby carriage alight shortly before the fire broke out. There were attacks against the building in 2006. Turkish media has been widely speculating that the fire was the result of an attack by neo-Nazis.
“Respect for the victims demands that we wait for the results of the police investigation and avoid making any prejudgements,” chairman of the foreign committee of Germany and CDU member Ruprecht Polenz told Bild-Zeitung. “But it doesn’t help anybody to fuel the fire now,” he added.
On Monday, Kurt Beck, the premier of Rhineland-Palatinate and the leader of the SPD Party, ruled out the possibility of a xenophobic attack. The Turkish ambassador to Germany Ali Irtemçelik criticized German officials for ruling out xenophobic arson as a cause for the fire before starting an official investigation. Irtemçelik, in turn, was also criticized.
“Sometimes ambassadors, too, have to be taught manners,” German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The media is speculating that if the investigation does uncover a xenophobic motive, Germany might be subject to international criticism for both its rightwing movement and the swiftness with which politicians ruled out xenophobic causes.