A Turkish businessman killed in Amsterdam over his alleged links to Gülen movement

The tension in Turkish politics led to a killing in the Netherlands. According to a report by Het Patrool, the Dutch police has confirmed that Turkish-Dutch citizen Ali Ekrem Kaynak, who has reportedly links to the Gülen movement, was shot and killed on Burgemeester De Vlugtlaan in Amsterdam Nieuw-West on Monday night.

Ali Ekrem Kaynak

According to nltimes.nl news outlet, the 48-year-old Kaynak, who was the owner of fast food chain Halaal Fried Chicken, was gunned down in front of his own restaurant. Sources told the newspaper that an argument about Turkish politics may be behind the shooting. Kaynak was hit by several bullets. He was rushed to hospital in critical condition. He died of his injuries on Tuesday morning. Bystanders saw three men run away from the scene of the shooting. So far no arrests were made. The police are looking for witnesses.

The victim co-founded Halal Fried Chicken with two Dutch-Turkish companions, opening the first branch on Burgemeester De Vlugtlaan in 2014. Two other Amsterdam branches followed shortly thereafter, and later branches were opened in Utrecht and Rotterdam. The restaurant chain made headlines earlier this year with clever advertisiments on bus stops that did not show pictures of food during the daylight hours of Rhamadan.

The other two co-founders recently left the business, according to Het Parool. Kaynak and one of them had an argument, which resulted in the two coming to blows in the Burgemeester De Vlugtlaan branch of the restaurant in August last year. Sources told the newspaper that the argument was about Turkish politics. Kaynak was targeted over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. The other man supports Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the newspaper.

At the time, the business partner said that the argument was business related. He left the business in September 2016. He refused to comment to Het Parool on Tuesday.

In April someone tried to set fire to the Halal Fried Chicken restaurant on Burgemeester De Vlugtlaan. The police recently released a surveillance camera video of the incident in an attempt to identify the suspects.

The other business partner left Halal Fried Chicken on January 1st of this year, though he still visits the restaurant. According to Het Parool, this is confirmed by the fact that he was shot in his leg in front of the restaurant on August 18th. He survived the shooting. Multiple men were seen running away from the shooting.

However, in a statement sent to ANP Pers Support on the behalf of Kaynak’s family, lawyer Mark Teurlings, has stated that Ali Ekrem Kaynak’s family does not recognize what have been written in the Dutch media. Lawyer Teurlings said that “With great sadness, the family has taken note of the unexpected death of Halal Fried Chicken owner Ali Kaynak. The family is shocked and deeply affected and is not recognized in the image outlined in the media.”

Lawyer Teurlings stated that “Ali was not only a single shareholder of Halal Fried Chicken but also the designer of the company’s concept and strategy. The family and surroundings know him as a peace-loving, socially involved entrepreneur and family man who did not fly evil. The family will continue the successful business in its memory.

“The family has taken note of the various speculations but leaves the investigation to the police. During this investigation, no statements are made about the cause and effect of Ali’s death. Of course, the family and the company will all cooperate with the police in this research. The family stresses that the family and / or the company are not politically engaged in any way. The family asks the time and space to give this loss a place.”

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Erdoğan’s Long Arm in Europe: The Case of the Netherlands” had exposed Turkish government profiling, harassment activities in the Netherlands which led to physical assaults and arson attempts against Turkish president’s critics.

The report has also covered an attack targeting businessman Ali Ekrem Kaynak. The report had said he was badly beaten by his business partner in Amsterdam. Photos showing his bloodstained face and head wrapped in bandages were posted on social media. Kaynak was running a restaurant in Amsterdam and was beaten by his business partner, Emin Duran. It was known within the Turkish community in the Netherlands that Kaynak was a liated with the Gülen movement, while Duran was an Erdoğan sympathizer.

The relationship between the partners had started to deteriorate in the wake of the graft and bribery scandals that went public on Dec. 17, 2013. It became irreversibly worse after July 15, 2016. Duran argued that he attacked Kaynak due to disagreements over the business. However, people close to them told SCF that this incident stemmed from the tension between Erdoğan and the Gülen movement.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. 

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