Peace in Kurdistan calls on the Football Association and other governing bodies to take firm action after Everton’s Cenk Tosun made a fascist salute during yesterday’s FA Cup tie with Rotherham.
The football community has rightly been united in its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and is committed to stamping out the scourge of racism in sport and in society.
It must now take immediate action against Turkish striker Cenk Tosun and we demand an urgent apology from Everton Football Club following the display of a salute clearly linked to the Grey Wolves – a far-right movement responsible for attacks on Kurds inside Turkey and across Europe.
Sport is highly politicised in Turkey with attacks on Kurdish football teams and their supporters a regular occurrence, carried out by the far-right Grey Wolves with the backing of a brutal and authoritarian Turkish state.
This is the second such scandal involving Tosun. UEFA investigated him and three other players for giving a military salute during an international match in October 2019 in support of Turkey’s illegal invasion of the largely-Kurdish region of northern Syria known as Rojava.
The war, conducted with jihadists has caused hundreds of thousands to be displaced amid accusations of war crimes and the use of chemical weapons in what is a clear attempt at ethnic cleansing of Kurds.
The Grey Wolves has recently been banned in France after its supporters daubed racist graffiti on a memorial commemorating the Armenian genocide in which at least 1.5 million men, women and children were systematically exterminated.
Germany, which has a sizeable Kurdish community, is considering similar measures, while Austria has banned the display of the salute and other paraphernalia linked to the Grey Wolves.
In sickening attacks in Vienna last year, Kurdish women were attacked by a mob of Grey Wolves nationalists who set fire to a building they had taken shelter in to escape their violent assaults.
The display of the symbol has to be seen in this context and the attempts to outlaw it in a number of European countries. It is simply inconceivable that Tosun was not aware of this or the meaning of his hand signal, which is akin to a nazi salute in Turkey.
His claims that he did not flash the Grey Wolves gesture simply will not wash.
But his actions are a boost to the far-right giving them confidence and can encourage attacks on the Kurdish community.
The FA and Everton FC must take a clear stand against racism and say that Kurdish Lives Matter.