The backlash from Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose’s interview with the New York Times goes on. Not only is Tokyo in danger of losing their bid for the 2020 Olympics, now Turkish politicians and analysts are having a field day lambasting Inose for his offensive remarks about Turkey and Muslims.
Reaction has been strong among the Turks after the NYT printed several remarks from Inose, including “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.” Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a prominent jurist-writer in Turkey said that the remarks are “disturbing, Islamophobic and racist”. He also said that it is understandable that Inose will criticize rival cities about infrastructure developments, but to say that about Islam is “unacceptable” and can be considered religious discrimination because he is “alienating” countries because of their religion.
Turkey’s Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç took to Twitter to criticize Inose, saying his remarks were “unfair and disheartening”. He said they have never been critical of their rivals, and in fact love Japanese people and “respect their beliefs and culture”. He says that Inose violated the Olympic spirit by publicly expressing those thoughts in an interview with a widely read paper. Mustafa Kamalak, the chairman of Turkey’s Felicity Party (SP), said that “Associating Islam with fighting is unfair towards the religion as well as towards humanity,” and that this doesn’t resonate with the spirit of Islam and the language of the Japanese.
While some think that Inose is more moderate than the previous governor Shintaro Ishihara, Ayhan Kaya, the director of the European Institute at Bilgi University in İstanbul says that Inose is part of the more nationalist line among Japanese politicians now, following the hawkish politics of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party. He said it would be just if Tokyo does not get chosen to host the Olympics.
Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid are the three countries vying to host the 2020 Olympics. If Istanbul gets chosen, it will be the first time that a Muslim-majority country will host the games. Although Inose has apologized for his remarks, Tokyo will still receive a reprimand from the International Olympics Committee Ethics Commission. He appears to have broken Rule 14 which prevents candidate cities from criticizing or even commenting on rival cities.
[ via World Bulletin ]