A German-Turkish athlete Deniz Naki, who is a striker (the position known as forward in American soccer) on the Turkish football club Genclerbirligi, is leaving his post with the team after he was allegedly physically assaulted over his racial background and for showing support over social media for Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Kobane.
He had posed in a picture which went viral over Facebook and Twitter in which he held up a sign which read “#Save our girls from ISIS.” The message was in support of the Yazidi women who are fighting a deadly, bloody battle against the Islamic State insurgents.
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) November 4, 2014
The attack reportedly took place on Sunday, according to the Guardian. “I wanted to get something for dinner when I was accosted by three people on a side-street. They threatened me that this was the first warning, the club did not need anyone like me and I should go away,” Naki said to a German newspaper.
This was not the first time Naki had been targeted. He has reportedly been repeatedly targeted over his Alevi-Kurdish origin and said this attack made him fear for his life, the Guardian notes. He said that while he was able to fend for himself by using his fists to fight back on this occasion, that the next time he might not be so lucky if weapons such as knives were to be used.
“I no longer feel safe here,” he said, referring to Ankara, Turkey.