The Corner

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No Passport, but Plenty of Spine: A Turkish Knick

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter in action against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Jesse Johnson / USA TODAY Sports)

Below, I had a post about Turkey, the Erdogan dictatorship, and freedom of the press. Here is something related. Enes Kanter was scheduled to appear at the Oslo Freedom Forum last week. He may well have been the tallest participant, and the most talented, athletically. He is a center for the New York Knicks. He is also a Turk, and the dictatorship canceled his passport, meaning he could not attend the Freedom Forum.

Why did they cancel his passport, these characters? Because Kanter is a critic of the regime — and they want to shut him up in any way they can. Kanter addressed the Freedom Forum in a video, shot in a locker room.

“Erdogan has persecuted hundreds of thousands of people, including my father,” he said. “Freedom of expression in Turkey is under attack by Erdogan’s government.” Turkey is now the leading jailer of journalists in the world. About 250 journalists are in prison, with 150 more facing outstanding arrests. Some 160 media outlets have been shut down.

There was once hope that Erdogan would introduce a democracy with Islamic characteristics, whatever that might have meant. Instead, he has produced a plain old dictatorship, of the kind dreadfully familiar around the world.

Often, we criticize athletes and entertainers for speaking out about politics. I certainly appreciate Enes Kanter.

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