Honoring German student Tugce Albayrak, who died defending teen girls from harassment

On November 15th, 22-year old Turkish-German student Tugce Albayrak was at a McDonald’s in the city of Offenbach (near Frankfurt), when she heard cries for help coming from the restaurant’s bathroom. When Albayrak headed in to investigate, she discovered that two teenage girls were being harassed by three grown men. Albayrak intervened, broke up the ugly situation, and the teen girls fled. 

The story should have ended there, with that act of bravery, but tragically, later that night in the parking lot of that same McDonald’s, one of the men returned to attack Albayrak. She received a blow to the head, and fell. Albayrak stayed in a coma for almost two weeks, until November 28th, when her parents decided to take her off of life support on what would have been her 23rd birthday.

Her attacker, an 18-year old man who confessed to the crime, and is currently being held in police custody, awaiting trial, where it’s believed he will be charged with assault resulting in unintentional manslaughter.

Albayrak’s nation—and the world—mourn the loss of this young woman whose moral compass unwaveringly pointed north and who possessed such rare courage More than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking Germany to posthumously honor Albayrak with .the country’s Federal Order Of Merit, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive, and the state premier has made it clear that it is his intention to push for her to receive this honor.

Meanwhile, President Joachim Gauck praised Albayrak’s bravery, in the following letter to her family:

“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.”

It is heartbreaking that Albayrak’s life was cut so tragically short because she had the courage to come to the aid of these girls when no one else would (restaurant employees obeyed their non-intervention policy, a decision McDonald’s supports in the wake of this tragedy). People the world over are asking themselves if they would have the courage to step in like Albayrak did, if they would go as far and suffer as much as this young woman did to do the right thing.

Currently, on social media, Albayrak has tens of thousands of supporters honoring her life and mourning her untimely death.

It is just too sad that an example of such remarkable courage had to end in such unspeakable tragedy.

(Images via Facebook and Reuters)