Oklahoma City Thunder player Enes Kanter was disowned by his family in Turkey, according to a report from Daily Sabah Basketball, for his ties to Fethullah Gülen. Gülen is a former imam who went into self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania over 15 years ago and was recently accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being behind a coup attempt last month in Turkey.
Kanter, the 24-year-old Turkish national who moved to the United States in 2009 to play prep basketball, has been outspoken in his support of Gülen and in speaking out against Erdogan, as noted in this Thunder Digest piece. Kanter was left off the 2015 Turkish team because of his political affiliation with Gülen. As the Daily Thunder piece notes, his Twitter feed is banned in Turkey.
The Daily Sabah, it should be noted, is an English-language newspaper published in Turkey. It began in 2014 as (according to Wikipedia) a “supportive voice of the AKP” (Erdogan’s party) among English language sites.
While we do not know the backstory and motivations behind Enes Kanter’s father, Mehmet, writing a letter published on this Erdogan-friendly publication, the following is all attributed to Mehmet by Daily Sabah:
- “I apologize to the Turkish people and the president for having such a son.”
- “His statements and behavior trouble our family. I told Enes that we would disown him should he not change his course. He did not care.”
- “I would not have taken Enes to the U.S. for the basketball camp where his talent was discovered had I known that it would come to this point,”
The story also claims that the family no longer wants Enes to bear the Kanter family name. That message reached Enes, as evidenced by this tweet he sent out this afternoon.
Eurohoops.net has translated that statement:
"“Today i lost my mother, father, brothers and sisters, my family and all my relatives. My own father asked me to change my surname. My mother, who has given me life disowned me. My brothers and sisters with which we have grown together ignore me. My relatives don’t want to see me again. For Gulen’s work, which has been grown by the tears of loyal and devoted people, not one but thousands of Enes could be sacrificed. I would sacrifice my mother, father and whole family for Gulen’s sake. I would give my head for this case. I hope my God would take from my life and give it to Gulen. I would sacrifice my heaven and i would laugh through hells for this service. My love for Gulen is more than my love to my mom, father, brothers and sisters and all other loves. My mom and my father would be sacrifice for you, for this service, for this case. There should be no doubt for everybody! God will take care to those people who are the supporters of this case, God will ramp up! Hang on my big brothers, hang on my big sisters! Hang in there! Let’s not lose that test. Let’s not be the losers at that victorious time. From now on, my sisters and brothers are the supporters of that service in 171 countries. Soldiers of that service are my brothers and sisters. From now on, my family is my Hodja (Gulen) who has tears in his eyes. Tyrants will be swept away in time. Hang on, God is with us. My god will make everything good It’s an indispensable case. There is God, there isn’t grief. Enes (Kanter) Gulen”"
In addition to including the name Gulen when he signed off on that message, with his surname of Kanter in parentheses, he also changed his Twitter handle to show the same name.