Polling place at Diyanet mosque in Amsterdam accused of pressuring voters

The Amsterdam municipality visited a polling station at a Turkish mosque in the Dutch capital after the mosque was accused of pressuring voters with posters of what is believed to be a religious movement controlled and paid by the Turkish government, RTL Nieuws reports.

Polling stations must be politically neutral, so that voters’ decisions are not influenced. The municipality is having the text on the poster translated to see whether it breaks the rules.

The polling station in question is located in a Diyanet mosque. Diyanet is a Turkish authority for religious affairs. There are also Turkish flags in the mosque and a Turkish radio station is playing, one woman complained on Twitter. The music and flags are not against the rules, according to Siebe Seitsma on behalf of the municipality. Posters and folders are not allowed, he said on Twitter.


Meanwhile, it has been reported that Dutch-Turks who oppose Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are worried about reprisals in the Netherlands. This is because Turkish media sources are portraying them as complicit in the diplomatic fallout between Turkey and the Netherlands over the weekend, Trouw reports.

A number of Dutch-Turks known to support Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, instead of Erdoğan, have been mentioned by name and had their photos published in the Turkish government newspaper Sabah, according to the newspaper. They are accused of participating in fascism in the Netherlands.

Turkey has escalated its witch hunt persecution on critics to abroad using government institutions, quasi-official parallel structures and front NGOs, a report released by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed on Feb. 27, 2017.

The report, drawn from a case study on the Netherlands where close to half a million Turks live, exposes how the current government in Turkey led by an authoritarian and oppressive leadership, has intensified spying, intelligence gathering and profiling of critics that at times led to harassment, intimidation, hate crimes and even physical attacks including arson attempts.

Although critics from all walks of life including Kurds and Alevis were targeted in general in this stigmatizing effort by the Turkish government, members of civic group called the Hizmet (Gülen) movement, which is inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, have borne the brunt of this major campaign of witch-hunt.

Gülen movement is a global movement that focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue, Turkish embassies, government agencies including intelligence service and non-governmental organizations affiliated with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have all involved in profiling and harassment of the Gülen movement members.

This persecution is personally sanctioned by President Erdoğan who stated that no country in the world would be safe for members of Gülen movement, vowed to pursue them wherever they are. His propagandists have even suggested assassinating and abducting critics abroad, and offered bounty on their heads.

SCF has documented many cases in this report, mostly from open sources and interviewed some victims. There have been other cases for which the victims do not want to report incidents for fear of further reprisals by the Turkish government such as jailing of victims’ relatives back in Turkey or unlawfully seizing their assets.

March 15, 2017

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