Violent attack marks alleged family feud over Gulen in Belgium

Family feuds over the 2016 coup attempt are reaching into Europe. 

Ibrahim Anaz, a Turkish descent living in Belgium, says he fell victim to a politically motivated knife attack from his niece’s husband, Euronews reported

Speaking to euronews, Anaz, 35, a member of a Gulen movement-affiliated business federation based in Belgium, said his niece’s husband views him as a terrorist. 

His movement considered a terrorist group, Fetullah Gulen is blamed for the failed July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Gulen’s followers and supporters have been jailed in Turkey and been pursued abroad by Turkish intelligence operations. Disputes have erupted between family members in Turkey, with instances reported of relatives turning on each other. 

This dispute in Belgium, Anaz says, arose when he warned his niece about traveling to Turkey in July 2017. He says his niece is a former teacher at a Gulen-linked school, and that he phoned the niece to warn that he might be in danger vacationing in Turkey.

Anaz says he arrived at the niece’s house, when the discussion turned violent. After the argument grew between Anaz, the niece, and her husband, Anaz left the house. 

Anaz claims his niece’s husband followed him out, yelling he would kill him in the middle of the street. Then the husband stabbed Anaz in the back with a fruit knife. 

“I tried to defend myself,” he tells euronews. “The first swing came toward my neck. I was a hair away from death.” 

Anaz says he was wounded in his thumb and right and left arms. “When the place turned into a puddle of blood, he stopped for a moment and I found an escape.” He went to a hospital emergency room, euronews writes. 

His attorney, Walter Van Steenbrugge, calls it a politically motivated crime and is seeking stiffer penalties from a Belgian court. 

Anaz’s niece, meanwhile, rejects the incident as political and instead calls it a “family dispute.”