Arsenal accused of discrimination
By KEREM HASAN / Chief Reporter
A LEADING Turkish Cypriot com- munity organisation in the UK has accused Arsenal Football Club of “discrimination” and “double stan- dards” against Mesut Özil, the German World Cup winner of Turkish heritage.
An open letter from Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations (CTCA-UK) president Ertuğrul Mehmet on Wednesday accused the club of “overtly discriminating against our community”.
The CTCA-UK is an umbrella organisation that represents 300,000 Turkish Cypriots based in the UK.
Many of them are Gunners fans due to the club’s north London location, where many Turkish Cypriots live, and their red and white colours.
Mr Mehmet said the club had “distanced” itself from Özil fol- lowing his criticism of the Chinese government over the plight of Uighur Turks in December 2019, but that other “non-British” Arsenal players had been “treated differently” for “making a stand against injustice”.
“Sadly, it soon became clear that the club has a very clear policy of double standards,” Mr Mehmet said in the letter, that was also covered by national UK media outlets such as The Sun and the Mirror.
“In the same month, in the run up to the UK general election [Arsenal player] Héctor Bellerín tweeted ‘Young people across the world have a chance to change what the future can be. Today’s the chance for all the British people to influence what your future and those living here holds. #F***Boris #GoVote.’
“In contrast, no-one at the club felt it was necessary to issue a statement distancing the club from Bellerín’s comment.”
The letter explained that “Channel 4, BBC and ITV. . .in September ran three 10-minute reports interviewing Uighurs . . . who retold horrific torture.”
Mr Mehmet pointed out that “another case of double standards” occurred when Arsenal FC sup- ported their star striker Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang and Nige- rians protesting against police brutality in a social media post last month.
“To our Nigerian fans. We see you. We hear you. We feel you. We have read your replies. We have seen the footage. We cannot imagine your pain. Our thoughts are with everyone in Nigeria. Stay strong. Stay safe,” Arsenal’s tweet on October 24 said.
Mr Mehmet’s letter continued: “Not only is Özil important to the British Turkish community, he is now hailed internationally as an important spokesperson for young Muslims. Islam is still the world’s fastest growing religion.”