On Tuesday evening, the footballing world paid their respects to the victims of the Paris attacks with a minute’s silence held before each of the international friendlies and qualifiers taking place across Europe.
While the majority responded with reverence and class, there was absolute uproar on social media and in certain sections of the press after Turkish fans appeared to boo and chant during the moment of silence in Istanbul prior to Turkey vs Greece.
Even Turkish manager Fatih Terim suggested after the game that the supporters at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium should have been more respectful.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) November 17, 2015
Istanbul fans boo minute of silence for Paris attacks, chant "Allahu akbar" before Turkey vs Greece soccer friendly
— Ece Toksabay (@ecetoksabay) November 17, 2015
And, of course, some enlightened publications like the Daily Mail were quick to admonish the supporters for their actions, jumping on reports that “Allahu Akbar” was shouted by several fans – a term often associated with Islamist terrorists.
Because of this some were quick to claim that the booing was a mark of direspect towards the 129 victims who died in Paris, with the chants said to show that the Turkish supporters were pledging support for Islamic State (ISIS).
However, there could well be more to this one than meets the eye, and numerous social media commentators have leapt to the defence of the Turkish supporters.
For starters, as always, it should be recognised that those appearing to boo or chant during the moment of silence were the minority of those in the stadium, as is always the case, so to tar an entire set of supporters with the same brush is typically reactionary.
Furthermore, some on social media have pointed out that the booing was not a show of disrespect towards to Paris victims but rather towards the Western world as a whole. Those commentators have, correctly, pointed out that no moment of silence was held across international football matches in the aftermath of the Ankara terror attack on October 11, in which more than 100 people died after two bombs were set off outside the railway station in the Turkish city.
A moment of silence was held during Turkey’s game against Iceland two days after the tragedy and, it should be noted, Turkish supporters booed during that too, likely in a show of defiance against the terrorists. It is also, reportedly, an accepted custom in Turkey for people to chant during a moment of silence.
Mustafa Özsarı – a Masters student at Anadolu University – spoke to 101 Great Goals to delve deeper into why Turkey fans were chanting and what they were actually saying.
Let it be clear: In Turkey (especially at football matches) a one minute silence is always used to chant for those who died in terrorist attacks. And what they are chanting is this ‘Şehitler ölmez, vatan bölünmez’. Translation: ‘Martyrs, they do not die (they are immortal), homeland (land, our land) is indivisible.’
And also, they booed the terrorist, not the victims. Any victims of terrorism are accepted as martyrs in Turkish culture. There is no disrespect to them, there has not been, there will not be.
As he, and many others, have rightly pointed out – it’s important we analyse situations like this properly. By not doing so, certain sections of the press are creating hate against people without really looking into the reasons behind why the Turkish fans could have behaved this way.
After terrorist attacks like those in Paris, Beirut, Ancara, Baghdad and elsewhere across the globe, we should be coming together as one around the world, not turning on each other!