Europe, calm down, it is a Turkish referendum, not yours

ISLAM ABDEL-RAHMAN @IslamRahman
Published

You do not need to be a political analyst to know that the visits of Turkish officials to Turkish communities and expats in Western Europe is not something new. Just a simple search on Google shows how many of those visits have taken place. The new thing is the hostile irrational actions from the European governments to such visits. The drama of such hostility reached its peak last Saturday when the Dutch government prevented one Turkish minister's flight from landing while harassing another minister and having her escorted out of the country.

Again you do not need to be a political expert to know that this hostility is related to the coming crucial constitutional referendum this April in Turkey, with Europeans explicitly or indirectly favoring one outcome over another. This fact led one of my Turkish friends to wonder if Europe is voting with the Turks in their own election.

When you hear many of those European politicians and experts mentioning human rights, freedom of expression and even rights of sovereignty to justify such rudeness and hostility, Google will help show the hypocrisy here. While Germany was denying Turkish officials from visiting their diaspora communities, Frau Merkel was visiting Cairo, praising and shaking hands with not just one of the worst Middle East tyrants but also one of its butchers too, throwing the suffering and cries of 90 million Egyptians under the train. Cairo also received a delegation from the Dutch parliament two months ago that discussed the cooperation between the two countries or better to say Holland and the Junta regime, without raising a word about the more than 60,000 men and women (including European citizens) rotting in the Junta's prisons, with many of them being tortured to death in custody. Of course, you do not need to spend much time browsing the web to remember the very cold and disappointed reactions many European capitals expressed to the failed coup attempt last year in Turkey to know how keen Europe is on democracy and freedom for Turkey.

The peak of the drama came when Dutch police cracked down on the Turkish citizens trying to reach their country's consulate in Rotterdam, deploying SWAT teams, water cannons, batons and dogs while holding the guards of the minister in custody and preventing Turkish media teams from covering the event. No condemnation at all of the crackdown came from many of the democracy and liberal preachers, may be because the area around the Rotterdam Turkish consulate is not called Taksim. Unfortunately, such ""professional" treatment from the Dutch police is not offered by other European cities who leave pro-PKK "a recognized terrorist group" rally freely in Europe streets.

However, with such drama, it was funny watching such liberal gurus, who were supposed to stay silent after their failure to realize the threats facing Turkey culminating in a bloody coup to analyze such crisis and link both Erdoğan and Wilders together (as if Erdoğan was sending his Ministers to interfere in European affairs or as if Wilders was the one who ordered such fascist actions). It would have been better for them to question the rationality of the Dutch and European hostility.

Finally, I have a message for both sides of this crisis. To the Europeans, I think it is better to focus on their own affairs. A stronger and successful Turkey will not threaten the EU, while the rise of xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments does. And facing such threatening domestic racism must involve making real examples of tolerance and confidence, rather than bowing down and proving the liberal establishment can be as racist as them. To the Turks, there is no need to remind the Europeans of democracy, international laws and human rights, which they forgot about when they stood watching young children fleeing wars and drowning in front of Europe's closed gates. It is better now to focus on making Turkey more open, stable and prosperous. By just doing this, the Turks will send the best reply to that sad craziness unleashed against their country.

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