The Knicks’ Enes Kanter Faces His Toughest Opponent: His President Express News
Kanter’s father, mother and sister remain in Turkey. He has not seen them since 2015 when, he said, the government destroyed his brother’s school, imprisoned his dentist, and arrested a man after his child took a picture with Kanter.
In 2016, the Kanter family’s house was raided and their electronics were taken.
Kanter has stopped communicating with them because of the fear of retribution.
His brother Kerem played basketball professionally in France and is now based in Chicago hoping to land a spot in the N.B.A.’s developmental league. Kanter’s youngest brother, Ahmet, plays high school basketball in Atlanta and is due to return to school this week after spending winter break in Turkey.
Kanter said he does not think his recent comments — he called Erdogan a lunatic, a maniac and a dictator in one fell swoop — will further jeopardize his family. On the contrary, he said he thinks being outspoken will secure his family’s safety. If Turkish officials detain his brother at the airport or throw his father in prison, Kanter said, his voice will only grow louder.
“I will speak to every newspaper and make it one of the biggest stories,” he said.
Kanter has a close relationship with Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years and who the Turkish government has accused of masterminding a bloody coup attempt in July 2016. Gulen denies the accusation.
Kanter visits Gulen every two weeks when not traveling with the Knicks. For decades, Gulen’s Hizmet movement has claimed to be trying to push the country toward democracy, education and cultural openness. But critics say the movement has secretly undermined democracy by infiltrating its followers into government institutions in order to seize power.
Kanter said he was with Gulen in Pennsylvania the night of the coup attempt, praying for peace. That comment likely will outrage many in Turkey; the leading coup plotters were Gulen followers who ordered tanks and planes against protesters, killing 251 people, including several soldiers and 60 policemen.