Androulakis receives Celtic jersey from Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter: "Our culture and food is the same"

Nikos Androulakis Enes Kanter Freedom

Nikos Androulakis, leader of the position PASOK-KINAL party, received on Wednesday Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom at his office in the Greek parliament.

Androulakis welcomed Kanter and expressed his solidarity with his efforts and repeated criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on human rights issues and the rule of law in Turkey.

"In the last months we have had many inflammatory statements from the Turkish side against Greece and Cyprus' sovereign rights. I condemn them in their entirety. In these periods our priority should be the respect to international law because at the end this is the only path for the peaceful co-existence of the two peoples in the future," Androulakis said.

"There are many Turkish refugees in Greece and we really appreciate your support because, unfortunately, Erdogan's policy is very cruel in our country," Kanter said, who met with the opposition leader on his own initiative.

"These people found a second home in Greece. It is amazing because every time I speak with someone of my Turkish friends here, they tell me that they adore their life here," the NBA star continued.

"The food is the same, the culture is the same, the dances are the same, everything is the same. The people are very friendly. I really appreciate your support because for all this period you are a real champion of human rights," he said.

"That's why it meant a great deal to me to meet you, because you are an example for many people," Kanter concluded.

Kanter Freedom, born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, was raised in Turkey and eventually granted American citizenship in 2021.

The NBA centre Enes is outspoken critic of Erdoğan’s Turkey. Kanter said he became publicly critical of the Turkish president in 2013 due to the corruption scandal in Turkey.

After the failed 2016 coup d’état attempt, Kanter criticised Erdoğan on Twitter, calling him the “Hitler of our century.”

Soon after the coup attempt in July, Kanter’s family publicly disowned him due to his political views and his support for Fethullah Gülen.

His father was dismissed from his university position a few weeks later via government decree, as part of the 2016–2017 Turkish purges, and charged as a member of a terrorist group in 2018. He was arrested and released after being detained for five days.

Kanter had his Turkish passport revoked in 2017, and an arrest warrant was issued due to his membership in Hizmet, an Islamist fraternal movement. In September of that same year, Kanter described himself as stateless.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon took up Kanter’s cause, stating “The United States must not stay silent in the face of such a blatant attack on free thought and expression.”

When the NBA player was granted his US citizenship, he changed his surname to Freedom, keeping Kanter as a middle name.

Kanter has played for five NBA teams since entering the league in 2011, and between 2008-2015 he represented the Turkish national team in international play.

Following his fallout with the Turkish authorities, however, Kanter’s NBA games have been censored in Turkey, and he’s had to forego international team trips because of the threat of arrest abroad.

It’s not only the Erdoğan regime that Kanter has openly criticised, however.

In 2021, he condemned Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator” and expressed his support for the Free Tibet movement on Twitter. In retaliation, the Chinese government stopped streaming all Boston Celtics games.

Later that year, Kanter led a rally in Washington D.C., urging the US Congress to pass a law that would limit imports from areas where China has oppressed Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz minorities.

He has also advocated the boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to be held in China.

After Kanter was waived out of his most recent contract with the Boston Celtics, he claimed he was pushed out of the NBA to appease the Chinese state. The claim was denied by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

READ MORE: Turkish media describe General Floros' visit to Chios and other Greek islands as "provocative".

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