The declaration of Turkish President Erdogan against Geert Wilders goes far, perhaps too far. Despite this, many Dutch-Turks think that Prime Minister Rutte, like French President Macron, should put a hand in his own bosom. They should condemn the cartoons about Erdogan.
Last week, Erdogan said Macron needed “psychological help” after it became known that the French president wants to take measures to counter Muslim extremism. On Saturday Geert Wilders published a cartoon of Erdogan, depicted with a bomb on his head. Erdogan, in turn, responded with a complaint against Wilders, for ‘insulting the head of state’. According to Prime Minister Rutte, this declaration was ‘unacceptable’. Wednesday did the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo another penny in the bag by depicting Erdogan slumped on a sofa in underwear, lifting the dress of a woman in Islamic clothing.
According to Muhsin Köktas, Turkish Dutchman and chairman of the Contact Organ Muslims and Government, many Turkish Dutch think that the Netherlands has double standards. “We condemn what President Erdogan says about President Macron, but an insulting cartoon made by Geert Wilders is acceptable to us. Then we suddenly stand up for freedom of expression. ”
Insulting Erdogan is sensitive to the Turkish community in the Netherlands, says Köktas. “It doesn’t even matter that much whether someone is a fan of him or not. He is the head of state of Turkey, and the head of state does not insult you. ” According to Köktas, it would be good if Rutte paid more attention to the point of view of the more than 400,000 Turks in the Netherlands. “Say that you understand our side of things, and tell Wilders that he is going too far. To get respect you also have to show respect. ”
Mehmet Yamali, employee of the Turkish Fatih mosque in Amsterdam, also confirms that among Turkish Dutch people there is a feeling that there are double standards. At the same time, he points out that there is a fear of talking about this subject. “In the Netherlands, we see freedom of expression as the greatest good. When you say ‘I find those cartoons unappetizing’, it almost feels like you said during the war that you were behind the Germans. ”
Most Turkish Dutch are simply in favor of freedom of expression, they are particularly concerned with the way in which criticism is expressed, says Yamali. “They mainly see the cartoons as bullying, as something rude. You may criticize or even hate someone, but express that criticism in a polite way. The cartoons are not one of them. ”
And the complaint that Erdogan has filed against Geert Wilders, isn’t that going too far? “It certainly goes very far,” says Yamali. “It would have been better if Erdogan hadn’t paid attention to that.” Köktas thinks differently about this. “It may not be neat from Erdogan. But is it neat that Wilders can just call him a terrorist? Or a tyrant? It is not surprising that there is a reaction to that. But we suddenly find that unacceptable. ”
Ultimately, it’s all a political game, Yamali says. “Macron and Wilders want to pose as great defenders of freedom of speech, in view of the elections. Rutte is participating, he is afraid that votes will go to Wilders. Erdogan is in a similar position: he also wants to satisfy his supporters. They all lure each other out of the tent. ”
Correction 29-10: An earlier version of this article stated that the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo would have portrayed Turkish President Erdogan as the prophet Mohammed. That is not true. In the cartoon, Erdogan was portrayed as himself in underwear as he lifts the dress of a woman in Islamic clothing.
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