Tragedy struck in the Netherlands today after a man opened fire in a tram, killing three and injuring at least nine others. One suspect has been identified as Gokmen Tanis, a 37 year-old Turkish man, and is suspected to have terrorist motives.
This incident sadly follows the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, in which a Mosque and an Islamic Centre were targetted by a white-supremacist, with the death toll capping out at 50.
The shooting was livestreamed on Facebook, with the video clearly depicting the massacre of innocent Muslims.
Interestingly enough, the controversial Turkish president Erdo?an was later the subject of controversy, as he used the video of the New Zealand massacre during an election rally.
According to the New York Times, Erdogan used an edited version of the video at least three times to “galvanize support among his Islamist followers ahead of local elections at the end of the month and criticized the Turkish opposition as weak.”
It comes as no coincidence. The manifesto of the NZ shooter had lengthy ramblings about a number of topics, including segments stating that Muslims should be driven out of Turkey west of Bosporus.
“Together with all Muslims, our country, our nation and myself are targeted,” Erdogan said at a rally in the southern city of Gaziantep. “What does it say? That we shouldn’t go west of the Bosporus, meaning Europe. Otherwise, he would come to Istanbul, kill us all, drives us out of our land.”
On Monday, not a week after Erdogan’s comments that rung similar to a call to arms, a Turkish man shot and killed three innocent people in Europe.
Erdogan is not new to controversy, nor does he shy away from his beliefs. He has been a strong voice against what he believes is Western islamophobia, and has gone so far as to say that Turks living in Europe should all have five children each.
Erdo?an told his compatriots living in Europe that they should view success — and the creation of big families — as the best way to combat the swell in anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish sentiment across the continent.
“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you,” he said at a rally.
He has even gone so far as to say that Holland, the country which was attacked earlier today, has “Nazi remnants, ” stating “I have said that I had thought Nazism was over, but I was wrong. Nazism is alive in the West.”
Since the Dutch general elections in 2017 that saw politicians with strong anti-Turkish views like Geerts Wilders, who stated that “[People from] the Netherlands can see that these people are Turks, not Dutch. They have Dutch passports, but they don’t belong here,” cultural tensions between the two nations have been high.
A group of Erdogan supporters tried to burn the Dutch flag, but accidentally burned a French flag instead. (They’re both tricolor, just slightly different colors.)
Other protesters in northwest Turkey stabbed and squeezed oranges to showcase their anger at the Dutch (the colour orange is synonymous with the Dutch royal family and the national soccer team). Flyers were passed around at the fruit-themed protests reading “Fascist Holland” and “Stay There, Orange.” as reported by the BBC.
With tensions at an all-time high, it will be interesting to see how things unfold.
The manifesto left behind by the New Zealand shooter had ramblings of far-right accelerationism, where fast, break-neck change happens overnight for better or for worse.
His attacks came along with the intention to cause higher tensions between the West and Islam, hoping for retaliations and hoping to cause more chaos and conflict in the future. His own statements include phrases such as “Stability and comfort are the enemies of revolutionary change. Therefore we must destabilize and discomfort society where ever possible.”
It’s unfortunate to think that this could be second domino in what could potentially be a nasty back and fourth between far-right ideologues and radicalized Islamists.
What do you think about the ongoing situation? Let your voice be heard. Comment below.