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No safety in exile as Turkish dissidents attacked abroad

Relentless social media harassment of Turkish dissidents abroad has now transformed into death threats and physical assault.
FC St. Pauli's Deniz Naki celebrates with supporters their victory after the German Bundesliga second division soccer match against Greuther Fuerth in Fuerth May 2, 2010. St. Pauli won the match 4-1. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) ONLINE CLIENTS MAY USE UP TO SIX IMAGES DURING EACH MATCH WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE DFL. NO MOBILE USE DURING THE MATCH AND FOR A FURTHER TWO HOURS AFTERWARDS IS PERMITTED WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE DFL. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY - BM2E6

Outspoken Kurdish-German soccer player Deniz Naki was the victim of an armed attack in his car in Germany on Jan. 7. Naki was unharmed in the attack, which was not his first. He has been verbally and physically harassed multiple times by Turkish ultra-nationalists. Naki has a tattoo that reads “azadi,” "freedom" in Kurdish, and is not shy about showing his support on social media for Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State or for the two academics who are on hunger strike demanding their jobs back. On his other arm Naki has a tattoo of his parents’ hometown of Dersim, which has a Kurdish-Alevi majority. In 2017 Naki was prosecuted for his social media posts allegedly in support of terrorism. He was given a suspended jail sentence.

The shots fired at Naki on a German freeway came just two weeks after People’s Democratic Party lawmaker Garo Paylan told the press he has been informed by Western officials that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) keep a list of dissenters to target. Several comments were shared on social media asking if this was the first of a series of assassinations. After the attack Paylan said, “The German and Turkish governments need to work together to take precautions against possible hate crimes.” It is not yet known who was behind the assault against Naki, but the German press reported that groups associated with the ultra-nationalists referred to as “Turan” or “Grey Wolves” have continued threatening Naki on social media since the attack. The pro-government Sabah Daily’s Europe edition ran a piece claiming the attack was a farce orchestrated by Paylan and that no one took Naki's account seriously.

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