A diplomatic spat between the Netherlands and Turkey has expanded in unexpected ways to unfairly target people unrelated to the dispute.
Over the weekend, Dutch officials refused permission for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s plane to land. Dutch police then deported Families and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya from Rotterdam. The two Turkish ministers had refused to comply with requests by the Dutch government not to visit the country to campaign on Turkish domestic issues in the run-up to the Dutch General Election, being held today.
The unceremonious treatment of Mr Çavuşoğlu and Mrs Sayan Kaya of the AK Party caused a huge uproar between the NATO allies, with the Turkish government using strong language to complain about the bans and behaviour of the Dutch authorities.
Comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in particular, were highly strident. He accused the Dutch of being “Nazis” and claimed they would “pay a heavy price” for their actions. This was all it took to galvanise the president’s support base into action, with protests forming across Turkey.
President Erdoğan’s fans are incapable of telling who is Dutch and who is not
Sadly, it seemed President Erdoğan’s fans are incapable of telling who is Dutch and who is not, resulting in the wrong people and nations being targeted by AK Party trolls for their protests.
On Monday, men in Samsun, in northern Turkey, burnt what they thought was the Dutch flag, stating on camera that they “do not recognise the Dutch flag”.
As various Turkish media commentators including Ahmet Hakan ironically note, the men really were unable to “recognise” the said flag, because they burnt the French one by mistake.
Turkish protestor mistakes Rotterdam New York for Dutch police station
Under the hashtag #EvetAvrupaTitriyor (Yes Europe is Shaking), a separate phone-blocking protest kicked off via Twitter at the weekend. Erdem Özveren called on Turks to bombard the Rotterdam police for their heavy-handed treatment of Minister Sayan Kaya and Turkish citizens gathered outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday night.
Özveren tweeted the number of the Rotterdam police station and invited everyone calls and plays them the Dombıra (traditional Turkic folk song adapted and used by Erdoğan in his 2014 Presidential campaign), Mehter (traditional military marching band song), Ezân (Islamic call to prayer) or Kurân.
00151 863 00 911
Arayıp Dombıra ve Mehter
Ezân ve Kurân Dinletin !.. 😊😁#EvetAvrupaTitriyor
— Erdem Özveren (@erdemozveren571) March 11, 2017
Unfortunately Özveren got the wrong ‘Rotterdam’, posting the telephone number for Rotterdam police in New York instead! His mistake was not spotted by thousands of other AK trolls either, who followed suit. Many, such as Muhammet Akosman, proudly posted clips of themselves as they called and played the suggested tunes down the phone to the US station.
A report in the Daily Dot said that emergency operators for the [New York] Rotterdam Police Department had received about 900 calls per hour on Saturday without knowing what it was all about.
The station’s Lieutenant Jeffrey Collins explained that although the calls had thankfully not posed a public safety threat for the town’s 30,000 residents, the station was obliged to employ all of its resources to deal with the calls, as it was impossible to tell which ones were genuine and which were nuisance calls.
Other more sinister protests also took place in Turkey. In İzmit, young men from the AK Party’s Youth Wing were filmed stabbing oranges – a national symbol of the Netherlands – before squeezing their juice and drinking it. The men held up banners condemning Holland and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as “fascists”.
On Saturday night, protestors also targeted the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul, accessing the building to replace the Dutch flag on the roof with the Turkish one. The development was met with consternation from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who issued a statement reminding the Turkish authorities that they are responsible for the safety of its diplomatic personnel.
In December the Russian ambassador was shot dead in an art gallery in Ankara.