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Turkey Summons Swedish Ambassador Over Tweet From Kurdish Group

Turkish President Recep Erdogan

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In the same week that Sweden admitted the country cannot meet all of Turkey’s demands in order to win its bid to join NATO, Ankara summoned Sweden’s ambassador regarding a Tweet posted by a Kurdish group.

The most recent outburst by Turkey regarding Sweden’s support of Kurds is one of the more absurd results of Turkey’s overreach in its demands that Sweden stamps out dissident Kurdish groups. The issue at hand involves a tweet from a Kurdish organization exercising its free speech.

The Swedish-based activist group, Rojava Committee of Sweden, on Wednesday compared Turkish leader Erdogan to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The Italian dictator was hung upside down by his feet after his execution near the end of WWII.

The subject tweet included a photo of a dummy made to look like Erdogan swinging by its feet from a rope, which furthered the comparison between the Turkish leader and Mussolini. The group hung the dummy on a street in Stockholm during a demonstration. In addition to the photo, the tweet stated, “History shows how dictators end up. It is time for Erdogan to resign. Take this chance to quit so that you don’t end up hanging upside down on (Istanbul’s) Taksim Square.”

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Turkey is demanding that Swedish authorities take swift and severe action against the group that published the tweet. Sweden’s Foreign Ministry condemned both the video and the tweet, but it was not enough to pacify the Turkish government, which wants Swedish officials to crack down on the Rojava Committee of Sweden.

Erdogan’s chief spokesman Fahrettin Altun tweeted, “We urge the Swedish authorities to take necessary steps against terrorist groups without further delay.” In response to Turkey’s tweet, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said the country supports “an open debate about politics” but “distances itself from threats and hatred against political representatives.”

Billstrom continued, “Portraying a popularly elected president as being executed outside city hall is abhorrent.” Regardless of how distasteful the tweet is, it is being interpreted in Sweden and Europe as protected speech and there will most likely not be any further action taken against the Rojava Committee of Sweden. It should be noted, however, that under Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has not been a supporter of free speech for several years.

Among Turkey’s many demands of Sweden before it will allow the nation to join NATO, is a request that the country change its laws regarding speech and freedom of assembly in an effort to crack down on anti-Turkey Kurdish groups.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has stated that at this point in Sweden’s negotiations with Turkey to join NATO, his country “cannot meet all of Turkey’s demands.” Given that Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador over a tweet from a Kurdish activist group, it is likely that Turkey will succeed in preventing Sweden from joining the military alliance.

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