“The assailants were supporters of Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan,” said Turkish boxer Ünsal Arık, who was attacked in Berlin on August 9, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.
Speaking to Duvar, Arık, known for his critical views of President Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said: “This was an organized attack. They could have killed me if they had wanted to, but they’re trying to intimidate me.’’
The winner of the European Boxing Championship, Arık lives in Berlin and had been the target of several attacks and threats from pro-Erdoğan individuals and groups in the past.
“Shame on you!” Arık tweeted following the attack and implied that his attackers called him a traitor.
Back in August 2020, Arık announced he had received a death threat when someone left an envelope containing a single bullet on his windshield. Arık also received a death threat on the phone barely a week after he found the bullet.
He also tweeted in September 2020 that his tires were slashed. “Are you this bothered by me breathing, being alive? Don’t you fear God at all?” he asked.
In December 2020, Arık was attacked again, this time with a knife.
According to Arık’s comments on social media, what prompted the threats and the attacks was his criticism of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) and President Erdoğan in interviews he had given to German media outlets.
The boxer said what he told them was that mosques in Turkey had become places of politics rather than religion, that the AKP government interfered in these places and that the Diyanet wasn’t what it used to be.