THOUSANDS of people have joined silent vigils across Germany to pay tribute to a student who was beaten to death after stopping a group of men harassing two women.
Tugce Albayrak, 22, intervened when she heard the women screaming for help in a restaurant toilet in the city of Offenbach on 15 November.
But later, in the car park, she was brutally attacked with a bat by one of the men and left with critical head injuries, the Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.
Her parents made the decision to switch off her life support on Friday after doctors told them she would never regain consciousness and declared her brain dead. It was her 23rd birthday.
Tugce, who was of Turkish descent, is being hailed as a hero across Germany, with thousands of people joining candlelit vigils in her honour outside the restaurant where she confronted the attackers and around the country.
Many held signs in German saying "Danke (thank you) Tugce", while others wore T-shirts in Turkish that said "Seni seviyoruz" - "we love you".
A petition signed by more than 50,000 people called for the German President, Joachim Gauck, to posthumously award her the national order of merit.
Saying he would consider the honour, the President wrote a letter of condolence to Tugce's family.
Calling her a role model for the nation, Mr Gauck said: "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."
Her suspected attacker, aged 18, is being held in custody.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend a rally paying tribute to Tugce planned in Berlin at 1pm on Sunday.
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