Yesterday, Greece and Turkey played a soccer match against each other in Istanbul. Before the game started, everybody in the stadium was asked to be silent for one minute in order to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Instead of being silent, some Turkish fans started booing and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (or actually: Allahu Ekber). This is Arabic (and Turkish) for “God is Great.”
Although many Muslims use this phrase in everyday life and even in their prayers, many Westerners associate it with terrorism. After all, Islamic terrorists often shout “Allahu Akbar” when they blow themselves up or start shooting at innocent people.
Obviously, the behavior of the fans was extremely disrespectful and even shocking. As Turkey’s manager Fatih Terim said after the game:
Greece is our neighbour. Today is world neighbours day, but our fans didn’t behave like neighbours in this match.
Hilariously, there are some Turks who try to spin this despicable behavior:
Let it be clear: In Turkey (especially at football matches) a one minute silence is always used to chant for those who died in terrorist attacks.
And what they are chanting is this “Şehitler ölmez, vatan bölünmez”. Translation: “Martyrs, they do not die (they are immortal), homeland (land, our land) is indivisible.”
That is a habit from our past with the terrorist organisation PKK.
In other words, the author pretends that the soccer fans were respecting the victims of the horrendous bloodbath in Paris.
Yes, really! It was an act of sympathy and compassion!
Sounds great, but there are a few problems with that rosy interpretation. They didn’t only chant “Allahu Akbar,” they also booed. The minute of silence was meant to commemorate the victims. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to boo… unless, of course, one refuses to side with the victims. In that case — and only in that case — does it make sense to boo.
Furthermore, if these fans sympathized with the French, they would’ve chanted something akin to their usual chants when the PKK carries out an attack. Instead, they shouted “Allahu Akbar,” which just so happens to be a chant often used in these situations by Islamic supremacists. Or Islamonazis, as I like to call them. What’s more, this chant is completely and utterly religious; they reconfirm their Islamic views, not, say, their humanism.
And there is more: Turkey is slowly being radicalized. While there are certainly still many Turks who support separation of mosque and state, roughly half of the country passionately supports President Erdogan, who is a notorious Islamist. Erdogan is constantly railing against the “Christian” West and “the Jews of Israel.” He has also been accused of supporting radical Islamic groups in Syria, like ISIS and Al Nusra (Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria).
Erdogan has set Turkey on a path towards Islamization… and it’s going faster than many thought possible. Where Muslim fundamentalists were once considered the scum of the earth in Turkey, and knew they had to keep their views to themselves if they wanted to continue living in freedom, they’re now emboldened. Hate for non-Muslims has increased significantly. You only need to talk to a few Turks about European, American and Israeli policies in the Middle East, and you’ll quickly realize that many believe in all kinds of conspiracy theories and are convinced that “the Jews and the Christians” are trying to bring Turkey down.
Lastly, in private conversations with me and between themselves, I have heard quite a lot of Turks who support Erdogan say they believe France “had it coming” — not because France has a horrendous immigration policy (which is true), but because it supposedly tolerates the PKK (a violent and revolutionary Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization). According to these folks, the French government allows PKK-supporters in France to funnel money and weapons to northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey, where they then carry out attacks against Turkish targets.
These people shrugged their shoulders after the attacks. They saw no reason to show sympathy for a country they consider their enemy and a friend of the PKK. It’s not difficult to believe that some of these radical nationalists were in the stadium yesterday and wanted to make clear they do not support France — no matter what.
There are many reasons why one can love Turkey — I know I do. The Turkish people are generally warm and kind. There are still many Turks who resist Islamization. They’re very hospitable to foreign visitors. But let’s not deceive ourselves: there are also many problems in Turkey, the rise of Muslim fundamentalism definitely being one of them.
The truth of the matter is that these soccer fans didn’t try to express sympathy with the victims. No, they were booing them because they consider the French — not ISIS — their main enemy.