Dutch-Turkish protest against police brutality in Rotterdam canceled over safety concerns

Turkey flag
Downloaded on 23 March 2013: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmoi/2678467654/sizes/o/in/photostream/. ((pterjan/flickr))

A Dutch-Turkish protest planned in Rotterdam on Friday afternoon is canceled, the organizers announced on Facebook. They can't guarantee the safety of the participants and therefore feel it's better not to go through with it, AD reports.

The protest, "Solidarity for Turks", was to advocate for freedom of expression for Dutch-Turks in the Netherlands and against police violence during previous protests at the Turkish consulate this past weekend. Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb gave permission for the protesters to march from Central Station to Schouwburgplein between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The announcement of the protest caused quite a stir on social media, with many fearing riots. According to website DutchTurks.nl these comments resulted in a number of Dutch-Turkish organizations announcing that they will not be taking part in the protest. 

Tensions in the Dutch-Turkish community in Rotterdam have been running high for almost a week due to a political spat between the Netherlands and Turkey. On Saturday hundreds of Dutch-Turks gathered at the Turkish consulate to listen to a Turkish Minister give a campaign speech for a referendum that would give president Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power. The speech never happened - the Dutch authorities decided not to allow two Ministers access to the country, fearing a disruption to public order. A group of Dutch-Turks turned against the police when one of the Ministers was escorted away from the consulate.

Following this, Erdogan accused the Netherlands of Nazism and fascism, of mass murder in Srebrenica in 1995 and imposed a number of sanctions against the country. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the sanctions "too bizarre for words" and Deputy Prime Minster Lodewijk Asscher said they were "mostly symbolic". A large number of Dutch sites were also attacked or hacked into and taken over, with Turkish messages left on them. The same happened to well known Dutch Twitter accounts. Voting aids Kieskompas and Stemwijzer were also the target of multiple DDoS attacks, though the culprit behind them is unclear.