" Enes Kanter, Turkish NBA player and human rights activist with controversial profile - NEWS-SPORT
Enes Kanter, Turkish NBA player and human rights activist with controversial profile

Enes Kanter, Turkish NBA player and human rights activist with controversial profile

He is the one who is not afraid to face the greatest leaders of this world. Enes Kanter, the Turkish Boston Celtics player in the NBA, has been criticizing Turkish and Chinese authoritarian regimes for several years. In his footage, the leaders of these countries, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Xi Jingping, and their human rights violations in their countries.

The criticism he has been emphasizing for several weeks, the latest of which dates back to Monday, November 15th.. As a meeting between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden is scheduled for Monday, Kanter shared a virulent tweet aimed at apostrophizing “President” Joe Biden and “Dictator” Xi Jinping. “Stop playing games with bullies and do what you promised the world! “Priority of human rights!” he scolded, closing his message with a caustic tone : “Will Joe Biden ask questions about the Uighur genocide, the attacks on Tibetans and Hong Kong? Or will they caress each other behind their backs?

Since 2016, Enes Kanter has multiplied the positions taken against Erdogan, violations of Turkish rule in human rights issues. The basketball player is also violent in his comments comparing in 2017 the Turkish president, leader of the Islamic-conservative party (AKP) with “Hitler of our century”. In 2020, he also signed a forum on Boston Globe denouncing “Tens of thousands of innocent people locked up in Turkish prisons, paying the price for the contempt of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for human rights “.

Recently, the player denounced human rights violations in China, bringing the voice of minorities. Thus he opposed Chinese President Xi Jingping for the oppression of the Uighurs, or the policy pursued in Hong Kong and Tibet. “Dear brutal dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese government. Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people!” Kanter wrote on social media on October 21st. “I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters and support their calls for freedom.” A position that unites human rights defenders and Tibetan exiles, who claim in particular that the Chinese central government practices religious repression, torture, forced sterilization, and cultural erosion through forced re-education.

One of the last positions of the basketball player dates from November 10 and this time it has to do with Taiwan. Taiwan will never surrender to the Wicked Chinese Communist Party. Taiwan is a DEMOCRATIC and FREE country. he still denounced on Twitter.

Each of his positions is followed by several posts on his social networks. For illustration, he links his comments to photos of his sneakers, the personalization of which fits according to his quarrels. “Kanter is the most visible and media-friendly player by the Turkish players and the one who goes further in challenging governments. And he does so with a rather amazing attitude, using the NBA platform to target foreign countries. “We do not have this profile in Europe in general, of migrant players coming to teach.” notes Jean-Baptiste Guégan, teacher of sports geopolitics, author of The geopolitics of sport: another explanation of the world (Ed. Breal). The NBA also supports (more or less openly) its player, as it did when Daryl Morey, a former league player, took a stand against Hong Kong in 2019.

Athletes of Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter before the opening home game against the Toronto Raptors on October 22, 2021 in Boston (Massachusetts).  (MADDIE MEYER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

So why such an attitude? The mystery remains intact. “He knows what it means to be oppressed. He was threatens physically from the Turkish diaspora. Therefore, he may have been transformed from a player talking about his condition into a spokesman for those who have no voice. “He can also prepare for his return.” lists the sports geopolitics specialist, Jean-Baptiste Guegan.

“He supports a persecuted minority and also uses the opportunity to put an end to Erdogan, who has supported the Uyghurs but softened his speech because China has economic and financial interests in Turkey.” adds Pierre Raffard, geographer, specialist in Turkey and teacher at the Free Institute of International Relations and Political Science (ILERI). Contacted by franceinfo: sport, Enes Kanter did not want to answer our questions.

At the age of 29, Enes Kanter has been playing in the NBA for ten years. The current Boston Celtics pivot also went through the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder or New York Knicks. “He was a real hope for Turkish basketball, even though he did not play much in Turkey. When he started his career in the United States, he was like all those Turkish athletes who succeeded abroad. He became a symbol.” develops Pierre Raffard.

Outside the prosecution, Enes Kanter is also an alleged supporter of Imam Fethullah Gulen’s brotherhood, the very one accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating the failed coup against the president. Erdogan in July 2016. A strong supporter of this movement is also Enes Kanter’s father, academician Mehmet Kanter. Ankara even considers him a terrorist since the failed 2016 attack. He too was imprisoned for this reason.

Even after 2016, Kanter never hid his connections with her Gulen and the Muslim Brotherhood. For his public support for this movement, Kanter, who is still with nine arrest warrants, tha éavoids contact with his relatives, still in Turkey, for fear of exposing them to retaliation by the authorities. His passport was also confiscated.

But the 2016 coup changed that and the symbol quickly became an enemy in Turkey. “In the United States, Enes Kanter is perceived as a human rights defender who defends democracy in Turkey and denounces the autocracy of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. analyzes Dağhan Iraq, lecturer in media and communication at the University of Huddersfield (located west of Manchester), specializing in political communication and the relationship between sport and politics. But in Turkey, he is seen as a fanatic of the extremist cult of Gulenwho was a former ally of Erdogan. ”

And it is precisely these links of the past that challenge and critique Da Ihan Irak. The Turks, whether for or against Erdogan, are well aware that Gülen’s group was not really different from Mr. Erdo Erdoganan’s autocracy, because they shared the same regime, until their political and financial divergence in 2013-2014.

“His positions are hypocritical, There are many Dağhan Iraq, who left Turkey around 2013-2014 to join Western Europe. “The human rights violations that Kanter denounces have already been committed when Gülen and Erdo Erdoganan were allies.”

“When they were part of the same alliance, they had the same autocratic practice and neither Gulen nor Kanter criticized Erdogan for that.”

Dağhan Iraq, lecturer at the University of Huddersfield

in franceinfo: sport

Despite numerous attacks, China did not respond to Enes Kanter’s attacks. Although matches of the Boston Celtics are temporarily suspended, cThe vengeful measures with which she is accustomed seem to be prudent. “The Chinese do not want to provoke or harass the Americans three months before the Beijing Games and risk a boycott. That is why they prefer to accept the criticism of Kanter, a Turkish player. NBA second knife and less visible than Daryl Morey for example, instead of attacking him frontally in response, and throwing on the table accusations related to Uighurs, Taiwan, etc. “ analyzed by Jean-Basptise-Guégan.

“We will see with the approach of the Olympics, if he continues his stances, to what extent Kanter can be a factor in a diplomatic incident or not.”

Jean-Baptiste Guegan

in franceinfo: sport

Moreover, China has a great need for entertainment and the NBA is one of the most watched leagues. The Chinese, however, have “they completely blackmailed Canter’s positions and mobilized their various networks of influence to discredit Canter in the media and on social media.” continues the specialist of sports geopolitics.

A strategy also used in Turkey where the local press completely blacklisted him. “For a year and a half, we have not spoken in the Turkish press for two years, whether that of the government or the opposition.” notes the geographer specialized in Turkey, Pierre Raffard. “And in the few articles that come out about him, especially in the conservative and pro-government press, he is always called ‘terrorist Kanter’.” For more, if he is seen as a human rights defender in the United States, his image is quite different within Turkish society. “He is alone, concludes Pierre Raffard. Erdogan’s supporters criticize him, as well as Erdogan’s opponents, who are also Gulenist opponents. “So he has no support in anyone in Turkey.”

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