The Turkish Boston Celtics player has taken US citizenship by adding the word freedom to his name. Enemy of Erdogan and critic of China, he has always fought for the rights of peoples, paying for his words: “Freedom is not free”
Freedom, on the shoulders, is a cry of freedom. It is a cry for human rights, a declaration of intent already evident, after having spent years showing attention and solidarity with the oppressed peoples, against oppressive tyrants. As in the Orlando “bubble” of 2020, the Turkish player of the Boston Celtics, Enes Kanter, has returned to wear a shirt with those seven very heavy letters. A year and a half ago the reason was the will of the league to send important messages in a very difficult time for humanity, today it happens because the basketball player obtained the US passport after years with a provisional document, changing his name to Enes Kanter Freedom.
The weight of words
Being Turkish and having no opinion in favor of your president does not lead to an easy existence. However, Kanter never worried about it and did not mind criticizing the work of Recep Tayyip Erdogan on several occasions over the past few years. The effects of these criticisms have been many and heavy, such as the disavowal by his family, with Enes expressing concerns for the occasion for possible retaliation against his parents. The Boston player was portrayed by the majority Turkish party as a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, responsible – according to the regime – for the attempted coup five years ago. Since that moment the athlete has been under the magnifying glass and this has not stopped him from saying publicly – in person and on social networks – what he thinks of the work of the leader of his country of origin, in no uncertain terms. For this reason, in 2017 he lost his Turkish citizenship and even an extradition request from the United States hangs on him, obviously gone unheeded: in the unlikely case of his return to Turkey, he would be put on trial because he is considered a terrorist and subject to international arrest warrant. A couple of years ago another criticism of Kanter focused on Turkey’s military offensives in Syria, against the Kurds, and his courage came to call Erdogan as “the new Hitler”, a comparison repeated several times over time. For this reason, outside the US borders, Enes is at risk. In the past, he spoke of constant death threats, of his father’s imprisonment, of an attempted kidnapping in Indonesia: “Freedom is not free”, to use his own words.
Beyond the border
Now there is no longer Enes Kanter, but there is Enes Kanter Freedom. The current surname means freedom, while the one he had until a few days ago has become the middle name. Yesterday the Celtics player celebrated the event with a post: “Proud to be American. The largest nation in the world. Land of the free and home of the brave “. He certainly is, given that the Chinese government was also among the recipients of his public criticisms, accused of denying the most basic rights to Tibetans. That “Free Tibet”, last October, resulted in the indefinite blackout of the Boston matches on Chinese television (as is already the case in Turkey). And then, gender equality, the exploitation of child labor and Uyghurs also in China. Kanter is free and certainly fearless, comfortable shouting to the world what he believes is abominable in the world, when the rest of the people are silent or pretend not to see. Since yesterday, Enes has been free in name and in fact. Even if it’s not free.
November 30 – 4:49 PM
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