Turkish Repression Targets Americans


Date posted: June 6, 2017

Max Boot

On May 16, during a state visit to Washington, Erdoğan’s bodyguards beat up peaceful protesters, many of them American citizens, in front of the Turkish embassy. At least 11 protesters were injured. Two arrests were made—both of the demonstrators. Erdoğan’s security force, assisted by freelance Turkish goons, got away with their assault in the heart of Washington.

By examining videotape of the incident, the New York Times was subsequently able to identify 24 attackers—most of them members of the presidential detail and hence presumably protected by diplomatic immunity. But even if so protected they could be designated “persona non grata” and denied future entry to the United States.

Eight of the attackers were simply Erdoğan supporters, including one man who lives in New Jersey and another in Virginia. A third is from Toronto. One of them even admitted to the Times that he had kicked a female demonstrator who was lying on the ground. As far as we know, though, none of the perpetrators have been prosecuted.


The U.S. needs to work with Turkey in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean we should extend Erdoğan a blank check for repression. Trump’s slogan is “America First.” The president needs to apply it when a foreign dictator is victimizing American citizens.


The most that happened was that the Turkish ambassador in Washington was summoned for a dressing down at the State Department from Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, a career Foreign Service Officer. It is doubtful that the Turks took this talking-to very seriously since it was not echoed on President Trump’s Twitter feed, who has been effusive in his praise for Erdoğan.

Nevertheless, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had the temerity to lodge a formal protest with the U.S. ambassador in Ankara over “aggressive actions by American security personnel during a visit to Washington.” What really seemed to offend the Turks is that the Washington police “had failed to quell an ‘unpermitted’ and ‘provocative’ demonstration.” Having repressed freedom of speech at home, Erdoğan apparently is now intent on repressing it in Washington as well—and he’s not getting much pushback from the U.S. government.

So now we come to the sequel: Erdoğan is going after Enes Kanter, the Turkish basketball superstar who plays center for the NBA’s Oklahoma Thunder. Kanter is an outspoken supporter of the exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Erdoğan blames (without any real evidence) for a failed military coup last summer. Last month, while on a global tour for his charitable foundation, Kanter had his Turkish passport revoked. He was in Rumania at the time and was briefly detained; he feared that Rumania was going to extradite him to Turkey, where Erdoğan would be able to jail him. Luckily, with help from the Department of Homeland Security, Kanter was able to make it home to the United States.

But his family remains in Turkey and is vulnerable to retaliation. The hoops star’s father, Mehmet Kanter, a genetics professor, went so far as to publicly denounce his own son: “I apologize to the Turkish people and the president for having such a son,” he wrote in a statement published across Turkish media. “His statements and behavior trouble our family.”

But that did not prevent the elder Kanter from losing his teaching position along with tens of thousands of others. And now it has not saved him from being arrested by the regime along with roughly 45,000 other political prisoners. On June 2, Enes Kanter tweeted: “HEY WORLD MY DAD HAS BEEN ARRESTED by Turkish government and the Hitler of our century. He is potentially to get tortured as thousand others.”

The treatment of Enes Kanter and his family is an outrage, even if does not rise to Nazi Germany, as his tweet suggested. But it’s bad enough that so many Turks have to suffer from this crackdown by their new sultan. The U.S. cannot stop Erdoğan, but it can register its disgust with what he is doing and highlight the need to respect basic human rights—especially on the part of a NATO ally. But that’s not what the Trump administration is doing. Trump even called Erdoğan in April to congratulate him on winning a rigged referendum that will further increase his already vast power.

The U.S. needs to work with Turkey in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean we should extend Erdoğan a blank check for repression. Trump’s slogan is “America First.” The president needs to apply it when a foreign dictator is victimizing American citizens.

Source: Commentary Magazine , June 5, 2017


Related News

Documents expose plot to hold Hizmet responsible for KPSS cheating

The Zaman daily has published documents which reveal that a plot was devised to unjustly hold the members of the Hizmet Movement responsible for a cheating scandal at the State Personnel Examination (KPSS) in 2010.

Turkey post-coup purges convulse society

President Erdogan says the state of emergency might be needed for another year to crush the “terrorist” threat. More than 130 media outlets have been shut down, the pro-Kurdish IMC TV the latest victim. The authorities have started releasing 38,000 prisoners, to make way for the new arrests.

Reporters Without Borders urges Turkey to rescind draconian state of emergency decrees

Two months after responding to a coup attempt by declaring a state of emergency, the Turkish government continues to target journalists, pluralism and freedom of information. RSF is today publishing a reportthat details the many abuses and urges the government to return to democratic principles.

Gülen says he supports broader press freedoms

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has said he advocates broader rights specifically in the arenas of freedom of expression and freedom of the press for journalists, including those who “unjustly” accuse him of conspiring against them. The allegations were recently voiced following the recent release of four journalists released pending trial in the OdaTV case, […]

Erdogan may keep winning, but it wont’ do Turkey any good

I don’t believe Ankara is ever really going to stray from its partnership with the U.S., because Turkey simply cannot afford it. The coup — failed though it was — has left the formerly expanding Turkish economy gasping. Credit-rating agencies have lowered the nation’s stock, and the purging of coup conspirators, both real and imagined, has left tens of thousands of crucial private- and public-sector positions empty. Economic growth, meanwhile, is expected to dip.

Alevi associations react against halt of mosque-cemevi project

Several Alevi Bektaşi Associations affiliated with the Federation of Alevi Foundations (AVF), which together represent 600 cemevis and 300 local Alevi community associations, have strongly condemned the refusal by Ankara’s Mamak Municipality

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Exiled journalist discusses crisis in Turkey

Erdoğan’s allegations proven to be incorrect, contradictory over time

Fortunately, we have not closed Gülen schools

Profiled lawyer files criminal complaint against MİT, MGK

Turkish businessmen gift another school to South Africa

Abuja hosts 2016 Int’l Festival of Language and Culture

Tevere Institute organized an Iftar Dinner for Diplomats in Vatican

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News