Throughout his NBA career, Enes Kanter has repeatedly criticized the Turkish government, but now that criticism has cost him his family and friends back in his homeland. Kanter is a staunch Gülen Movement supporter, having frequent communications with the Gülen Movement leader, Fethullah Gülen, while the rest of his family supports incumbent President Erdogan. Wishing to distance himself from his son, Enes’ father, Mehmet Kanter, released a statement in which he said, “I apologize to the Turkish people and the president for having such a son.”
From the outside, a family disowning their son looks completely ridiculous, but after getting into the politics of Turkey, you begin to understand the reasoning behind this drastic measure. Fethullah Gülen, a former imam, is currently living as a fugitive in Pennsylvania, and his exile stems from when Gülen opened a corruption investigation against President Erdogan after Erdogan began restricting civil liberties on Turkish citizens. And remember that failed military coup in Turkey about a month ago? Well, the soldiers responsible for that coup were supposedly linked to the Gülen Movement, and once this coup failed, over 100 pro-coup figures were murdered at the hands of President Erdogan.Whether the Gülenist Movement was responsible for the coup or not, President Erdogan has declared genocide against his supporters, so Kanter’s family definitely felt the pressure to renounce their son.
After receiving the news from his family, Enes Kanter reaffirmed his allegiance to Gülen’s movement, and posted a cult-like statement claiming,
For the hizmet, the hizmet that grew with the tears of devoted, loyal people I would sacrifice not one Enes but a thousand, on the road of hocaefendi I would sacrifice my father, mother, my siblings and my relatives. For this cause I would not only sacrifice my hair if asked for, I would sacrifice my head.
These statements point to the fact that the splintering of the Kanter family is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the tumultuous politics of Turkey, and that we are likely to see more quarrels between the Gülen supporters and Erdogan’s administration. We can only hope for the safety of the Turkish citizens, Erdogan supporters or not, until the government ceases their persecution of the Gülen Movement.