Turkish fans booed during a minute’s silence held for the victims of the Paris attacks before their national team drew 0-0 with Greece in a friendly international football game at İstanbul’s Fatih Terim Stadium on Tuesday, leading to strong criticism within Turkey and around the world.
My opinion: unacceptable. Do really Turkish people support ISIS actions across their borders and within Turkey?
It was supposed to be a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks.
But those 60 seconds before the Greece-Turkey soccer match were anything but quiet as the stadium gave rise to booing.
“Our fans should have behaved during the national anthems and during the one minute silence,” Turkey’s manager Fatih Terim said. “Greece is our neighbor. Today is world neighbors day, but our fans didn’t behave like neighbors in this match.”
It’s not clear what was prompting the noise pollution, however. Reuters and CBS both reported chants of “Allahu Akbar.” Some Istanbul locals said the boos were targeted at those who orchestrated the attacks. Others said booing during the Greek anthem related to the ongoing political and cultural tensions between Greece and Turkey.
The mark of respect was observed at matches across Europe, including at Wembley, where France played England, after radical terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants struck Paris on Friday, killing 129 people.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras watched the game together, in a sign of reconciliation between the two neighbors, whose relationship has suffered from hostilities in the past.
The minute’s silence was held before the match started on Tuesday evening to show solidarity with France after 129 people were killed during a major terrorist attack in Paris on Friday. However, the silence was protested by some spectators who booed and some others who shouted “Martyrs never die, the country will never be divided.”
Some spectators also booed during the singing of the Greek national anthem before the match. Turkish midfielder Arda Turan reacted against the errant spectators, attempting to silence them with hand signals. When the spectators continued to boo, other Turkish footballers — Olcay Şahan and Mehmet Topal — also used hand signals to request the spectators to fall silent.
Speaking to the press after the match, Fatih Terim, the legendary coach of the Turkish national team, condemned the behavior of the spectators, asking in protest: “If they do the same thing during our national anthem, what will you do? What is happening to us [the Turkish people]? Where did this whistling come from? We are holding a minute of silence for dead people. Can you [spectators] not be patient for just a minute? This does not suit us at all.”
This incident received widespread media coverage in foreign media outlets. France’s L’Equipe daily said the minute’s silence held for the victims of the Paris attacks was not respected. “Some of the supporters constantly booed during the minute’s silence. A group of spectators were also chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is great] under the glances of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras. The Turkish nationalist slogans continued regularly throughout the match.”
Spain’s AS daily reported the incident thus: “During the minute’s silence at the Turkey-Greece match, the spectators chanted the slogan of ‘Allahu Akbar’.”
Greek’s Protathlitis daily covered the incident under the headline “Turkish version of silence,” reporting that there was anger in the stadium during the one-minute silence held for the victims of the Paris attacks. “Turks do not care about the Paris attacks,” the daily said.
It is not the first time Turkish spectators have booed a minute’s silence during a national match. Spectators at a football match on Oct. 13 in Konya booed during what was supposed to be a moment of silence for victims of the Oct. 10 Ankara bombings.
The moment of silence was called before play in the Turkish national team’s Euro 2016 Group qualification match against Iceland. The Ankara bombing was the deadliest ever in Turkey’s history, with 102 people killed and more than 500 people injured. Some of the spectators, however, broke the silence by booing, whistling and chanting “Allahu Akbar.”
The Ankara bombings targeting a large-scale peace rally in downtown Ankara came weeks before Turkey’s Nov. 1 parliamentary election. The twin explosions hit the rally of pro-Kurdish and leftist activists outside Ankara’s main train station.
Last night’s match was the first time Turkey and Greece had met for eight years and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) had announced a string of additional security measures before the match at the İstanbul Başakşehir stadium, which was a 17,000 sell out.