Enes Kanter explains how issues with Turkish government affected locker room
Enes Kanter has dealt with the backlash of his political opinions ever since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the helm in 2014, often criticizing the center and maligning anyone who declares any sort of tie with him.
The feud between the 6-foot-11 big man and the Turkish leader went even further when his support for Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric Turkey has blamed for a failed coup attempt in 2016, was made known.
This resulted in the arrest of his father, Dr. Mehmet Kanter, a professor back in Turkey, for his alleged connection to Gulen. This took place despite Kanter’s father disowning his son and publicly supporting Erdogan, and the elder Kanter is now facing five to 10 years in prison after being indicted.
This was followed by Kanter, 26, getting a warrant for his arrest if he were to ever go back to Turkey, landing him a four-year prison sentence for his constant criticism of the current Turkish regime.
“It’s tough for me and for my teammates, because when the news was coming out – Enes Kanter just got four years in prison if he ever goes back to Turkey – I’d get to the locker room and people would look at me so weird. They’d ask if I was okay. I was like, “Yeah man I’m used to this kind of stuff. Don’t worry about it,” said Kanter, who has been looking to become an American citizen since being detained in a Romanian airport last year during the offseason.
“My thing is just, with all the Turkish stuff – I tried to bring my family to America but the Turkish government took their passports away so they cannot travel anymore. [And] a year or two ago the police came to my house in Turkey. They took all of my electronics away; the phones away, the computers away, laptops away. They want to see if I am still in contact with my family or not. Because if they see any text message then they will all be in trouble. My brother was here and I was just communicating through my brother.”
Turkey’s government has been intent on making Kanter the black sheep of Turkish athletes playing abroad, while Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova often receives all the good headlines due to a rather mum stance on politics.