A Kurdish Alevi soccer player, Deniz Naki, was brutally beaten on Nov. 2 in Ankara by supporters of the Islamic State (IS) for standing in solidarity with Kobani. Three days after his ordeal, Naki told Al-Monitor he left his soccer club in Turkey because he feared for the well-being of friends and teammates.
Naki, who grew up in Germany, is rather outspoken by Turkish standards; he is unapologetic for his Dersim tattoo. Naki’s family is from Dersim, which is a town known for its Alevi Kurdish population. (The 1937-38 massacre in Dersim is still a bitter memory for Alevis and Kurds, where thousands were killed by the army.) Naki told Al-Monitor the attack was not a sporadic incident, as he had been systemically targeted by IS supporters for seven months prior to the attack. When Al-Monitor asked whether he had sought legal protection, Naki chuckled and said, “How much trust could an Alevi Kurd have in the state for protection, given that all the dead kids from Gezi [Park] are Alevis? Did you forget?” Naki is convinced there is extensive support in Turkey for the IS caliphate beyond a few fanatics who are eager to join jihad.