Sweden Submits to Turkish Pressure, Authorises Pro-Erdogan Rallies

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara on June 17, 2014.

The Swedish government has bowed to Turkish pressure, allowing the country’s Islamist government to organise rallies supporting a huge increase in powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on its soil.

One rally in Stockholm planned for 12 March was cancelled after the venue owner cancelled the contract for the event, but the Swedish foreign ministry was quick to point out they had no part in the decision and that it could take place elsewhere.

Leaders in Erdoğan’s party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), have already staged at least one small rally in the suburbs of Stockholm, with party secretary Mehmet Medhi Eker addressing some three hundred supporters.

The New European reports the Scandinavian country’s capitulation in the context of rising support for the populist, anti-mass migration Sweden Democrats. The party has increased their vote share from 5.7 per cent in 2010 to 12.9 per cent in 2014, with opinion polls suggesting they may now have the backing of more than 20 per cent of the electorate.

Erdoğan has been escalating a high-level row with the Netherlands in recent days. Over the weekend, the European Union (EU) member state refused to allow Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to attend a rally in Rotterdam and turned back another government minister, Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, who crossed the German border with a fleet of ministerial cars.

The decision prompted the Turkish strongman to promise “harsh retaliation” and denigrate the Dutch as “fascists” and “Nazi remnants”.

Turkish migrants and dual nationals who support the “Moderate Islamist” felt compelled to riot in the streets, causing anti-mass migration electoral frontrunner Geert Wilders to broadcast a message saying: “You are no Europeans, and you will never be.”

“An Islamic state like Turkey does not belong to Europe. All the values Europe stands for – freedom, democracy, human rights – are incompatible with Islam,” he said.

“Turkey voted for Erdoğan, a dangerous Islamist who raises the flag of Islam. We do not want more, but less Islam. So Turkey, stay away from us. You are not welcome here.”

Germany and Denmark have joined the Netherlands in discouraging the Turkish government from campaigning on their territory – with Erdoğan accusing the former of “Nazi practices” as a result. Sweden’s decision marks a break in European solidarity.

The move has upset Sweden’s substantial Kurdish population, which has been fighting periodic battles with Turkish migrants on Sweden’s streets for years.

Kurds have suffered greatly in Turkey since a failed coup attempt by secularists in the Turkish armed forces last year, which Erdoğan’s regime used as an opportunity to crack down on political opponents across the board.

Pro-Kurdish lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested en masse in November 2016. On 10 March 2017, the United Nations released a report detailing how Turkish military, security, and police forces have subjected thousands of Kurds to summary execution, rape, and torture, and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless by levelling large swathes of their communities.

Source: DigitalGlobe/UNOSAT, via Associated Press

France, like Sweden, has allowed the AKP to campaign on its territory, with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu disparaging the Netherlands as “the capital of fascism” at a rally in the border city of Metz on 12 March.

The socialist government’s permissive stance prompted an indignant response from Marine Le Pen, the populist frontrunner for the first round of France’s upcoming presidential elections.

“Why should we tolerate speeches on our soil that other democracies refuse?” she asked on social media. “No Turkish electoral campaign in France.”

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery