Turkish-German politician receives death threats ahead of EP elections

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 20.05.2019 00:13

As the European Parliament (EP) elections approach, a rise in xenophobic acts against Turkish and Muslim politicians in European countries emerged as they receive death threats full of anti-Muslim sentiments, the latest of which came to a German politician of Turkish descent through the mail two weeks ago.

The head of the Germany's Bündnis für Innovation und Gerechtigkeit (BIG Party) Haluk Yıldız said during an iftar(fast-breaking) dinner on Saturday that he received a letter that was full of anti-Muslim threats.

Attending the iftar dinner of the Union der Türkisch-Islamischen Kulturvereine in Europa (ATIB), he said that an envelope with his party's logo came to his home. However, when he opened the envelope, there was the picture of Kaaba with dirt on it. There was also a letter that was said: "You're crossing your limits now. In this country, Germans are the ones who have the right to command, and if you do not know your limits, we know what to do." After talking about the incident, Yıldız underlined that this was yet another example of rising anti-Muslim sentiments in the country, reminding the media that racist populist parties have become the third-largest party groups in Europe. He also urged people to participate in the European Parliament elections, saying that it has a historical importance for Turks in Europe, especially if they want to say no to anti-Muslim, anti-Turkish sentiments on the continent. The BIG Party is participating in these elections for the first time, and according to Yıldız, if voters act sensibly, there is the possibility of taking more than one seat in the parliament. European Parliament elections scheduled to take place on May 23. The BIG Party was founded in Cologne in 2010 by Turks living in the country.

Anti-Muslim hatred has been on the rise for years. Far-right extremism and xenophobia have fueled anti-Muslim hatred in Western countries, where terror attacks by Daesh and al-Qaeda are used as an excuse to legitimize those views. Although enmity toward Muslims is not a new phenomenon, it intensified after 2001 when airplanes crashed into the twin towers in New York City. Since then, for almost two decades, Islam has been unjustly tarnished with labels that have negative connotations and been portrayed as a religion of hate and violence with anti-Western sentiment and women's oppression. This trend of intolerance has triggered deadly attacks against Muslims and immigrants since then.

Apart from Germany, Turkish politicians in other European countries also face death threats ahead of the upcoming polls. Politicians of Turkish descent running in the European Parliament elections in the Netherlands are facing death threats as an outcome of rising anti-Muslim sentiments. Some of the politicians receiving the most threats are from the DENK Party, which largely consists of Turks and migrants. "There are various threats to our lives and properties, and they are mostly made through social media," said Ayhan Tonca, the leading candidate of the party for the EP elections, while speaking to Daily Sabah.

Noting that it is really hard to determine who these people are, Tonca said that whenever they determine the identity of the attacker they bring the case to the police, but despite ensuring that they will take care of the issue no specific actions have been taken.

"It was impossible to imagine that such things would happen 10 years ago. However, right now, it is very common to face such threats," Tonca said, adding that the reason is because far-right views are on the rise along with xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments.

The DENK Party is the first political party in the Netherlands established by migrants, two parliamentarians with Turkish roots, Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, who left the Labour Party (PvdA) because it inadequately defended the rights of minorities, especially of Muslims and people of Turkish origin.

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