Enes Kanter Says He Was Harassed at Mosque by Supporters of Turkish President

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2019

CANTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 30: Enes Kanter #11 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait on September 30, 2019 at High Output Studios in Canton, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter said he was "attacked and threatened" by supporters of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan outside of a Boston mosque Friday.

Kanter tweeted video of the incident:

According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Kanter—who grew up in Turkey—believes the incident was a result of a Sept. 28 tweet, which included a mention of the mosque he went to Friday.

Kanter and rookie teammate Tacko Fall visited the mosque following the Celtics' first practice of the day. Kanter said that as he and Fall attempted to leave, two men began "screaming" and "cursing" at him, per Bontemps:

"It was pretty crazy, because this is America. You should be safe to come in a mosque and pray peacefully. It was the first time it's happened to me in America, but it was definitely scary because I looked at Tacko and said, 'Tacko, don't worry about it. I've got it. We're fine.' But we were just waiting for our Uber, so it was crazy and scary."

He said Saturday he won't allow the situation to stop him from speaking out against Erdogan, per Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe:

"No, what I'm doing is huge because I'm talking about human rights. I'm talking about democracy, freedom, freedom of speech, religion, and expression. I'm talking about justice.

"So, just because I'm talking about these issues and that stuff, I'm going to get threats? I'll take that. I'll be OK having security next to me 24/7. But those issues that I'm talking about are way bigger than myself and basketball."

Kanter has long opposed Erdogan.

In May 2017, he called Erdogan the "Hitler of our century" as he was being held at a Romanian airport after Turkish officials canceled his passport.

Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times reported that December that the Turkish government wanted to imprison Kanter for a minimum of four years for insulting Erdogan.

In June 2018, the Turkish government sentenced Kanter's father, Mehmet, to 15 years in prison.

As a member of the New York Knicks, Kanter declined to go with the team to London last season. He revealed in January he can't travel outside of the United States and Canada because "there's a chance I could get killed out there," referencing Erdogan, whom he called a "maniac."

He also skipped a February contest in Toronto while with the Portland Trail Blazers because of safety concerns.

Kanter signed with Boston as a free agent in July.

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