GeriGündem Oktay Eksi: Football chants in the wake of Hrant's death
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Oktay Eksi: Football chants in the wake of Hrant's death

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Let the Prime Minister have some vision. Let him deal not only with Turkey's various troubles, but with world problems. Let him show other countries the true path in life....

These are wonderful wishes, are they not?
Clearly Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan must have felt this desire, as he left to join in the African Union summit taking place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. He sprinkled delegates there with great words showing a "wide-scoped vision."He drew attention in to the ever-widening gap between the West and the Islamic world. He called on African leaders to support the Alliance of Civilizations project.

Interestingly though, just at the moment he was making this call for support, his own country, Turkey, was under the siege of those who would like to divide our nation into enemy camps, polarized by their hatred and intolerance for eachother.

According to news this week, the usual chants heard at football games were not enough for the fans who came to watch Trabzonspor play Kayserispor over the weekend. The rally leaders at the match, whose job is to yell directive chants over their megaphones, took up the well-known chant of "Those who don't stand up are Fenerbahce fans!" and turned it instead into "Those who don't stand up are Armenians!"

It is clear that the intent of these chants was not to "provoke" but to outright "insult."

Ok, so you might respond to this by saying "What, you think that's something? There are usually such insults raining down on those stadium seats that you could never repeat them at your home or to your children!"

But I would point out that one of the peculiar attributes of those stadium chants is that they are of the variety that can be forgotten and left behind at the stands of the stadium. But is this "Armenian" chant really of that variety?

Next we learn that even more worrisome things took place at football matches in Adana and Malatya, also this weekend.
So let's say that the reactions we saw at the Adana match were directly in response to the banners at Hrant Dink's funeral which read "We are all Hrant Dink" and "We are all Armenian," which is why Adana fans unfurled banners reading "We are all Mustafa Kemal" and "We are all Turkish!"

But what can we say about the Malatya match? At this match, which was between Malatyaspor and Elazigspor, there were reportedly around 400 Elazigspor fans chanting "Armenian Malatya!" before the game. (This chant being of course a reference to the fact that Hrant Dink was born in Malatya.) They they opened up banners reading "We are neither Armenian nor from Malatya. We are from Elazig. We are Turkey lovers!"

You can play football at a match, but you can't-or shouldn't-play with peoples' patriotism. Because playing with patriotism means playing with fire. And the types of people who fill football stadium stands anyway are the types very open to provocation.
To be clear about it, we are being pulled towards exactly the sort of backdrop desired by those who would have the people of our country turn on eachother. We are trying hard to misunderstand eachother. For example, we are thrilled when Germans protesting the burning down by racists of a Turkish family's house in the German city of Solingen hit the streets in protest carrying signs saying "We are all Turkish," but it is another story altogether when we do the same things after Hrant Dink's death. We are pushing our society towards polarization. And in doing so, we are harming our nation.
To wit, though it's wonderful that the Prime Minister is looking for solutions in Africa, doesn't he also need to sweep his own front door step right about now?