NBA’s Enes Kanter thanks Greece for welcoming Turks fleeing Erdoğan gov’t

NBA Player Enes Kanter has thanked the government of Greece for welcoming Turkish asylum seekers escaping a government crackdown in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt.

“I have so much appreciation for the people and government of Greece, especially for assisting refugees and migrants from Turkey who are forced to flee Erdogan’s oppression and harassment,’’ Kanter told Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Monday. 

The 28-year-old NBA player was stripped of his Turkish citizenship in 2017 over his support of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed putsch and maintaining a long-running scheme to overthrow Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions. 

“I am very grateful to our Greek neighbours for their efforts in supporting human rights,’’ Kanter said.

Following the 2016 coup attempt, the government carried out a massive purge, stripping tens of thousands with even tenuous links to Gülen’s followers, known as the Gülen movement, of their jobs and leaving tens of thousands more jailed. Many followers of Gülen have fled Turkey to seek asylum elsewhere, including thousands who fled to Greece. 

Kanter also spoke on Turkey’s recent decision to reconvert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, accusing Erdoğan of using the move as a power grab.

Ankara is steering Turkey away from the West with decisions like the conversion of the 6th century structure constructed as a Byzantine cathedral, he said. 

“This is one of Erdoğan’s games and is politically motivated. It means Turkey is moving away from its modern secular roots,’’ Kanter told Kathimerini.