It appears that the retaliation for Enes Kanter’s criticism of Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan has followed the big man to the Boston Celtics.
The Turkish center tweeted video on Friday of what he called “thugs” representing Erdogan confronting him outside of a Boston-area mosque. He claimed that the group had attacked him, though no physical violence was seen in the video.
As with most angry confrontations these days, the matter apparently devolved into both sides taking video of each other while shouting.
Hello Everyone!#DictatorErdogan @RTErdogan thugs attacked and threatened me today after Friday prayer in Boston at a mosque
Turkish Government don't even let me practice my religion freely in America let alone my freedom of speech is under attack@FBI@FBIBoston@bostonpolice pic.twitter.com/FH2Ixe6QcY
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 4, 2019
Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, Kanter’s teammate and also a Muslim, can be seen with Kanter in the video.
Enes Kanter’s contentious history with the Turkish government
Friday’s confrontation is the latest in a long saga between Kanter, arguably the most well-known Turkish athlete in the United States, and Erdogan’s government. Kanter claimed just a few months ago that “goons” from the Turkish consolate in New York had threatened a mosque into cancelling his free basketball camp.
The situation is potentially life-threatening for Kanter, who has reportedly slept with a panic button set up by the FBI in the event of an attack on his home. Kanter has been forced to miss NBA games located outside the U.S. due to the threat of Turkish operators in foreign countries.
Even the U.S. has seen violence against protesters from Erdogan’s bodyguards in a widely criticized incident outside the Turkish embassy.
The animosity between Kanter and the Turkish government originates from the player’s support of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdogan has accused of orchestrating a failed coup against him in 2016. Kanter has been outspoken in his love for Gülen and criticism of Erdogan, to the point that Erdogan’s government issued a “Red Notice” against him with Interpol that calls for his arrest and extradition to Turkey. The government has also had Kanter’s passport seized, leading to his detention and possible extradition at a Romanian airport.
The situation is bad enough that Kanter’s family cut ties with him in 2016, which didn’t stop Turkey from sentencing Kanter’s father to 15 years in prison last year.
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