A case was filed against 30 youths who unfurled Palestinian flags and chanted “Damn Israel” slogans during a EuroCup Women basketball game between Kayseri Kaski Spor and Israel’s Maccabi Bnot at the Kayseri Kadir Has Congress and Sports Center in November.
Around 3,000 people gathered at the Kayseri Cumhuriyet Square on Jan. 27 thanks to the efforts of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and other non-governmental organizations to voice their support for the youths. They chanted slogans,” We say ‘Damn Israel’ altogether and take part in this offense.”
IHH President Bülent Yıldırım who was also in Kayseri appealed to the prosecutors who filed a case against the youths and said: “If you have the courage to file a case against these young people, why don’t you file a case against Israel which massacred our friends in international waters?” Just as the demonstration was going on, the Kayseri court announced its ruling about the young people and acquitted them.
The youths were being accused of “insult on the basis of religion, language, ethnicity, gender or sectarian difference.”
The prosecution was demanding one year jail sentence for the 30 individuals according to the 14/2 article of the Law on the Prevention of Violence and Disorder at Sporting Events and 53/1 article of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
Around 40 volunteer lawyers defended the young people at the Kayseri 3rd Criminal Court of Peace. During Friday’s hearing, journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak submitted a petition to the court to be a co-plaintiff in the case. His request was accepted by the court. Dilipak stood up and made a defense as he was also a suspect.
Case will be filed against the prosecutor for keeping the court busy
Lawyers of the youths said they will file a case against the prosecutor who filed a case against the young people because the prosecutor filed this case unnecessarily and caused a material damage to the state. At the hearing, lawyers of the suspects said the slogans chanted by the suspects during the basketball game do not include violence but they were just a criticism of Israeli occupation of Palestine and its illegitimate activities. They also said those slogans had nothing to do with Jewish people and it would be wrong to see them as an act of discrimination against them. Lawyers said although brother of Furkan Doğan, a victim of Mavi Marmara, was among the youths chanting slogans, he was separated from other suspects in order to prevent a public indignation, so this case included many mistakes from the beginning.
Following defense statements from the lawyers, the presiding judge of the court said the slogan “Damn Israel” does not target Israeli people and it does not include elements of discrimination, adding that its just a condemnation against Israel and not an insult. In addition, the suspects said they did not target the basketball players with their slogans but the illegitimate and unjust policies of Israel.
Thousands gathered in Kayseri in support of 30 youths
At the time of the hearing, holding Palestinian flags, thousands of people from across Turkey gathered in the Kayseri Cumhuriyet Square near the Kayseri Courthouse in support of the young people.
Despite cold and rainy weather, around 3,000 people gathered in the square and chanted slogans such as, “Marty Furkan Doğan, your way is our way,” “Our blood is in Aqsa, victory belongs to Islam,” “Greetings to Hamas, continue to resistance,” We are all Furkan, damn Israel.”
The demonstrators said, “Our brothers are tried for damning Israel,” now we say, “Damn Israel” altogether and commit this offense, too. “A price is being paid in Kayseri, be afraid of us, the United States, be afraid of us, the UK, be afraid of us, Israel,” said the protestors.
IHH President Yıldırım: Why is not a case launched against Israel which spreads hatred and enmity in the world?
Speaking at the demonstration in Kayseri, Yıldırım said: “Why is not a case launched against Israel which spreads anger and enmity in the world while a case could be launched against 30 young people who say, ‘Damn Israel’?” “Don’t you have as much courage as the Jews, Israelis and Christians who boarded Mavi Marmara?” Yıldırım asked the prosecutors.
“I congratulate our prosecutors who filed a case against our youths for chanting a slogan against Israel. It seems that they are brave people. It seems that having launched a case against the young people, these prosecutors have sufficient courage to file a case against Israel which massacred our friends in international waters. We care about this case [in Kayseri], because following this case, some reckless people filed other cases in Ankara and Diyarbakır [against anti-Israeli protestors]. What case is this? Our people were killed, if someone’s honor was damaged, it is the honor of this country. These young people only said, ‘Damn Israel.’ Don’t you have as much courage as the Jews, Israelis and Christians who boarded Mavi Marmara? Such a ruling should come out from this case that nobody else should be able to dare to file such a case again, forever. This case should be concluded against Israel which spreads hatred and enmity,” said Yıldırım.
Will a case be filed against those who boycott France?
Drawing attention to the mistakes in the cases filed, Yıldırım said: “Everyone should know that we fear nobody but Allah. Israel lost in the eyes of this nation. These people will make Israel pay the price of its actions. Now, Mavi Marmara is sailing through the land from Egypt, Libya and in other places where there are promising public movements. Mavi Marmara continues to serve for its mission. It does so for the oppressed people. I appeal to Israel from here. Oh Israel, Turkey is not yours. 98 percent of this nation is Muslim and they are with us. The people of this country know Israel better now. I am appealing to prosecutors. You cannot question the cruelty of Israel, you cannot file a case against Israel for its Mavi Marmara attack. We question your commitment to law. Cases were filed against people in Kayseri, Ankara, Diyarbakır for protesting Israel. These are very ridiculous things. Now, we boycott France as the entire country [for its adoption of a law which criminalizes denial of Armenian ‘genocide.’] Everyone says, ‘Damn France.’ Will you file a case against everyone who says this? If you don’t file a case against everyone, then we will question your understanding of law. I call on prosecutors to give up from their mistakes and not make this country be ashamed of them.”
We say, ‘Damn Israel’ everywhere
Recalling that 30 young people in Kayseri were prosecuted for unfurling Palestinian flags and chanting, ‘Damn Israel’ slogans, Yıldırım said: “Our youths are being tried for unfurling Palestinian flags. We are not disturbed by unfurling Palestinian flags against Zionism and we say this everywhere, ‘Damn Israel.’”
Do you have the courage to file a case against Israel?
Addressing the crowd in the Cumhuriyet Square in Kayseri, Yıldırım criticized the prosecutors who failed to file a case against Israel for its attack on Mavi Marmara.
“Do you have the courage to file a case against Israel which attacked us and killed our friends in international waters? If this trial does not produce the ruling we expect, we know how to make hundreds of people take to the streets and gather in Çağlayan Square.”
The court’s ruling of acquittal was announced by Yıldırım at the square. One of the lawyers of the suspects Fevzi Konaç said: “When the court announced its ruling for the acquittal of the suspects, there were emotional moments in the courtroom. I took part in the most honorable case in my profession. May Allah accept your testimony. Now, this document in my hand has proved that unfurling a Palestinian flag and chanting, ‘Damn Israel,’ slogans is not an offense.”
Speaking on behalf of his friends who were prosecuted like him for protesting against Israel, Erkam Cengil said: “When Israel is damned, an ethnicity, a religion or a religious sect is not damned. When Israel is damned, wars, occupation, violation of property and honor are damned. We repeated a condemnation the world has been saying for more than half a century and said, ‘Damn Israel.’ We unfurled Palestinian flags for our Palestinian sisters and brothers who resist against Israeli violence with their honor. And today, we are being tried in line with a law called the “Violence Law” although we did not make any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity. Those who directed these charges against us should know this well, we are Muslims and as Allah said in Surat Al-Ma’idah, we believe that our hatred for a society should not prompt us to rule unjustly about them. When Israel is damned, an ethnicity, a religion or a religious sect is not damned. When Israel is damned, wars, occupation, violation of property and honor are damned and the humanity breaths a sigh of relief.”
In the meantime, Dilipak who spoke after the announcement of the court’s decision said the young people did not chant slogans against Israel with a racist motivation. “We, Muslims, greet all prophets with respect. We only oppose to tyranny. This is what these young people did.”
After the court’s ruling, the crowd at the Cumhuriyet Square visited the grave of Furkan Doğan, a Mavi Marmara victim, and prayed for him.