Archive | August, 2017

Sultan Erdogan against the European Terror Grandpas

23 Aug The Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C.

For about a decade the elected “president” of Turkey has been trying to make his country a member of the European Union, and for even longer he has been moaning about our European freedom of speech, and how much it disgusts him. Ever since he declared martial law over his country Erdogan’s helpers have been arresting political opponents left, right, and center. And after convincing his people to grant him dictatorial powers (by democratic vote, mind you!) he now also employs the police forces of other nations in his politically motivated man hunt. However, the most recent target of his elongated arm of injustice might prove to be a stumble in the wrong direction.

 

Lisbon, port view

Maybe it’s just too hot in Southern Europe. Some politicians there have immensily stupid ideas.

Dogan Akhanli is a German author with Turkish roots, and he has always had much to say about the new Ottoman kingdom. Especially now that Erdogan has nearly dictatorial powers Akhanli is full of criticism for Turkey, and the people that govern it. And so, Sultan Erdogan has ordered the prosecution of Akhanli, as he did with so many of his critics before, once again masking his efforts “protection against terrorism”. Last weekend Interpol located Akhanli during his vacation in Spain, and since Interpol is bound by international law he is now being held in detention by the Spanish authorities, while a Spanish court must decide whether or not the 60-year old author should be extradited to Turkey.

The latter is rather unlikely, since Turkey’s arrest order is based on a case of armed robbery; a case that dates back nearly thirty years, and one that he has been acquitted from in 2011. Back then the defence bench won significant points when two of the witnesses admitted to having been bullied by the police into implicating Akhanli in a robbery that he had otherwise nothing to do with.

 

Demise of International Police Efforts

So, Akhanli is German, a writer, and a critic of Sultan Erdogan; and there is no way Spain would ever extradite him to Turkey, not based on a poor accusation that is so blatantly motivated by non-democratic politics. Then why are we still talking about this subject? Because the case of Dogan Akhanli is a new escalation of Turkey’s war on its international critics. (Maybe I should be glad that nobody ever reads my blogs. For now I can still travel to the Middle East without fearing imprisonment.) As long as Erdogan prosecuted only his own people there was not much for his international partners to criticise. But now that he abuses Interpol, an international police force tasked with the prevention of drug traffic, terrorism, and illegal arms deals – you know, stuff that actually matters to all of us – now Europe has reasons to officially condemn and discredit Erdogan’s poor state of mind and his complete lack of diplomatic care.

In the past eight months Sultan Erdogan has ordered the arrest of many thousands of Turkish citizens, many of them seeking “refuge” (i.e. living) in European countries, where they hold first or second citizenship. All of these dissidents are accused of terrorism and conspiracy against Turkey, and the vast majority of them are journalists or otherwise literate critics of the sultan’s rule. That brings up some important questions: How desperate must a terrorist organisation be to enlist newspaper columnists and retired poets as their primary warriors? How much does it pay to rain death and destruction on the new Ottoman kingdom via pen and paper? And why haven’t organisations like ISIS and Al Qaida moved in on that business opportunity yet?

 

The Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C.

Turkey seems to be frozen in a political war against itself. Some days the Ottoman Empire relives some of its glory.

Let my people go!

Turkey has been demanding the extradition of European “terrorists” for many years; never providing any evidence for the legitimate prosecution of those thousands of journalists; all the while keeping political hostages imprisoned that worked for European news agencies, or spoke up against inhumanity, or simply went on vacation in Turkey, and stumbled into a left-winged demonstration. Now we finally have the opportunity to get those people back onto EU soil. We just claim them to be terrorists, and demand their immediate extradition to their respective home countries. As Turkey has shown, it is rather unnecessary to provide evidence for such ludicrous claims, and any disobedience to those demands justifies the use of foul language against the Turkish government.

It is disheartening to see how the ignorant loud mouths have taken over the international political stage, and that often enough the people they govern go along with their perverted ideas or political incorrectness. But if Sultan Erdogan accuses us to harbour terror grandpas and deadly poets in our democratic countries, the least we can do is demand the return of our own terror tourists.

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Football, stadion violence, and DFB escalation tactics

17 Aug Fire in Calgary

It is no secret that my appreciation for football (or soccer, as the uninitiated North-American populus calls it) is rather limited. I genuinely loose all ability to concentrate when two dozen millionaires shove a ball around to determine who can deliver the most convincing charade of “wounded world war soldier”. Rollerderby is my spectator sport of choice, and likely will remain so. But the German Football Association (DFB) has sported a novel approach to combat stadium violence that is begging for uninformed commentary. And so, I shall deliver.

 

Hooligans afoot

German football has recently suffered some tragedies, and for a change I am not talking about the lost championship of the ladies. No, football in Germany is facing increasing levels of uninvited violence, to a degree where hooligans bring weapons and arson kits, to lay waste to the stadium when the game is not running a favourable course. This aggression has been building for two decades, and has finally reached a level that urges even the otherwise reality-deprived council of DFB officials to act. It started quite innocently with toilet paper rolls being thrown onto the play filed, and over the years advanced to bottles and cans, and finally to fireworks and Molotov cocktails.

The DFB has always exclaimed their sympathy for the victims, while condoning the radical perpetrators, and even punished the football clubs that were associated with the rioting mobs. In the extreme some clubs had to play entire games in a stadium void of any spectators; equivalent to Steven Spielberg premiering his latest popcorn movie in front of an audience that consists exclusively of critics. Unsurprisingly, the clubs and their fans are very unhappy about community punishments like these, because they hurt the sport, and they don’t seem to invoke any positive change – the hooligans just reappear a few games later, and continue their dirty work.

 

Football stadium Southampton

A Football stadium can be home of great joy … and great physical pain.

A political approach

But the DFB would not be one of the richest and most prestigious sporting organisations in Europe, if they had not found a disputable solution for the problem of escalating violence. The DFB has now officially announced plans to engage the radical hooligans in a dialogue, and commit to change the rules in their favour. When prompted upon this new brotherly love for violent extremists DFB officials replied that in the future stadiums might be graced with special sections where, for example, “small fireworks” can be burned. Admittedly I do not understand the logic behind that approach, but I also am not a football fan, so maybe my perspective as an outsider might be useful for the discussion.

The outrage of actual fans over previous punishments that targeted entire clubs is understandable. You don’t close down a supermarket because some of its costumers engage in organised theft. The kleptomaniacs would just follow their practices elsewhere.

However, I find it equally unwise to establish a “lawless section” in every supermarket, or in this case stadium. Certainly, kleptomaniacs will be happy to have an isle where they can steal without fearing legal consequence. And when expensive items get stolen, security will know in which section to look for the perpetrators. But what about the young football-enthusiastic families and fans, in whose name the DFB is discussing those changes? Will parents really be happy to have a stadium section where fireworks are allowed, considering that many people who light football fireworks are also prone to toss them at players and rivalling fans? And what item might be next on the list of special admits – glass bottles; spray cans; flick knifes?

 

may-meltdown

I’ve never seen spectators bring glass bottles or fireworks to a rollerderby bout. It’s not even a rule – people just don’t do it.

Haters gonna hate

Nobody asks for my opinion, but I am so used to being underappreciated that I offer it anyway. Why don’t we go the opposite path, and treat criminals like criminals? Every house has rules, and if an individual breaks them, the house owner has the right to evict and repent that perpetrator. I cannot think of any sport experience that would be enhanced by the occurrence of fireworks and physical hostility. Maybe Blood Bowl, but that’s not a legal pass time activity either.

There is still plenty of space in our prisons, so there really is no reason to let people run free who repeatedly break the rules of fan engagement. Throwing fireworks into the crowd, and beating up bystanders would not be tolerated in a shopping mall, so it really should not be tolerated at a sport event either. It has become sad common practice to ignore both law and community when dealing with powerful minorities, otherwise certain cosmopolitan criminals would not be in charge of their respective countries right now. But it can’t be too much to ask the big, wealthy German football clubs to keep an eye open for violent criminals, catch them, and hand them over to the authorities.

And if you absolutely have to fill a particular section of the stadium with criminals, please let them be pickpockets and exhibitionists. At least the rest of us will have something funny to watch.