On January 11 a group of Kurdish demonstrators in Sweden hanged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in effigy in front of Stockholm City Hall. The action was a deliberate historical mimicry of the end met by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1945.
Needless to say, Turkish government officials were upset when a video of the hanging went viral on social media. The Kurdish action was described as “racist” — apparently Turks and Kurds are considered racially distinct. Or maybe the Turks understood all too well that the best way to prod guilt-ridden Westerners into action is to call something they did “racist”.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson denounced the hanging, but a mere denunciation was not enough to satisfy the Turks, who demanded that the miscreants responsible for the action be brought to justice. The matter was referred to a Swedish prosecutor as a possible instance of defamation, but after examining the evidence, he declined to prosecute anyone. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was incensed, and protested the prosecutor’s decision.
At this point, it looks like Sweden can kiss any potential NATO membership goodbye.
Below are excerpts from an ABC News article about the larger ramifications of the Kurdish street theater:
Sweden: Erdogan effigy ‘act of sabotage’ against NATO bid
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has denounced a protest by Kurds in central Stockholm where an effigy of Turkey’s president was hung from a lamppost as an act of “sabotage” against Sweden’s bid to join NATO
ANKARA, Turkey — Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Friday denounced a protest by Kurds in central Stockholm, where an effigy of Turkey’s president was hung from a lamppost, as an act of “sabotage” against Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
The protest outside City Hall on Wednesday drew an angry backlash from Turkey, a NATO member which already had held off on approving Sweden’s application to become part of the Western military alliance until the government in Stockholm satisfies its demands.
The speaker of Turkey’s parliament, Mustafa Sentop, canceled a visit by Andreas Norlén, the speaker of the Swedish parliament, that was scheduled for next Tuesday. Turkish lawmakers need to ratify Sweden’s NATO application for the Nordic nation to become a member.
Turkey has made its approval conditional on Stockholm cracking down on exiled Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers a threat to its national security. The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador on Thursday over the Stockholm demonstration.
Kristersson condemned the incident involving the effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“People tried to show their views on the Swedish NATO accession through a disgusting way of portraying president Erdogan in almost something looking like an execution.” Kristersson told reporters after a meeting with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. “That is bad in every sense.”
Kristersson said he understood why Turkey is outraged, saying “we would show the same reaction if this was aimed at a Swedish leader.”
“I would say this is sabotage against the Swedish NATO application,” Kristersson said. “It is dangerous for Swedish security to act in this way.”
Photographs posted on social media showed a mannequin resembling Erdogan hanging upside down. A group calling itself the Swedish Solidarity Committee for Rojava claimed it was behind the protest. Rojava is a Kurdish name for north and east Syria.
A man only identifying himself as Andreas told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that he was among those who put up the effigy “to create a reaction. To show that Turkey is not a democracy. And we succeeded.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the protest as a racist act and a hate crime. Sweden would not be able to “get away” with a simple condemnation of the incident, he said.
“This action took place in the center of the city, right in front of the municipality, in front of everyone,” Cavusoglu said. “Sweden has a responsibility here.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said the protest “now risks complicating and delaying the process that Sweden and its future NATO ally Türkiye have begun, working step by step to build faith in each other.” He used the Turkish government’s preferred name for Turkey.
“This act plays directly into the hands of Russia and weakens our country, and it happened during the most serious security situation since the Second World War,” the Swedish foreign minister said.
|00:05||On Wednesday an effigy representing Turkish President Erdogan was hung outside Stockholm City Hall.|
|00:10||The Rojava Committees, who posted the film on Twitter, are behind the action.|
|00:17||Sweden’s foreign minister, Tobias Billström (M), describes the action as “disgusting”.|
|00:23||The incident sent Turkey into a frenzy, and on Thursday|
|00:26||the Swedish ambassador was summoned to a meeting.