U.S. Islamic centre cancels youth camp due to threats from Turkey - Kanter

A New York Islamic center cancelled a free youth basketball camp on Wednesday due to threats from the Turkish consulate in New York City, Turkish professional basketball player Enes Kanter said. 

“I am so hurt that the Islamic Center of Long Island has decided to cancel the camp after the Turkish Consulate in NYC threatened the mosque, sent out their goons and encouraged people in Turkey to call and leave threatening messages,” Kanter, who plays for the NBA team in Boston, said in a letter made public by New York Daily News reporter Stefan Bondy. 

This would have been the 34th free camp Kanter has hosted this summer, he added.

Kanter’s campaign against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s human rights violations has attracted considerable media attention in recent months. 

Erdoğan says that Fethullah Gülen, U.S.-based founder of a Turkish Islamist movement, ordered the country’s July 2016 coup attempt. His government has cracked down on suspected members of the group, which it labels a terrorist outfit, at home and abroad. 

Kanter is a disciple of Gülen, who denies involvement in the coup plot, and visits him regularly at his Pennsylvania compound. In an April profile, New York magazine described Kanter as an influential critic of Erdoğan who had successful shaped U.S. public opinion. “His efforts to enter Turkey’s crisis into the American mainstream have been an astonishing success,” the magazine said. 

Kanter has expressed fears that if he leaves the United States he might be killed or captured by Erdoğan loyalists, and his father, who lives in Istanbul, will soon go on trial in Turkey. In his letter, he expressed hope that Erdoğan’s government would fail to have any further impact on U.S. communities. 

“I am even more disappointed in the Mosque for not calling the police on these thugs,” Kanter said. “I hope in the future the communities in America realise they have freedom and do not have to bow down to dictatorship.”