Pro-Turkey protests in Rotterdam turned into riots and Dutch police had to use water cannons to break up the violence. Online videos of the protests show police trying to control the crowd with dogs and horses while protesters fought back. The situation happened only days before critical elections in the Netherlands to determine the next prime minister.
A string of events led to the clash. First, the Dutch government prevented the Turkish foreign minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, from landing in the country. Her intent was to hold a rally to support an upcoming referendum that would give Turkey more power. Turkey's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is considered a dictator by some.
Unable to land in the country, the foreign minister attempted to travel to the Netherlands by road. Dutch police stopped the car and prevented her from entering the Turkish consulate building where she would be safe from arrest. When police attempted to tow the car with her in it, she got into a different car and returned to the German border.
Turkish people became angry at the sleight. The incident highlighted the tension between native Europeans and Muslims, an important issue considering the proximity of the Dutch election. The foreign minister, who wears a hijab, said she would never accept this unlawful treatment.The ensuing heated protests caused the mayor of Rotterdam--who is also a Muslim--to declare a state of emergency. The state of emergency later spread to the rest of the country. The mayor expressed frustration at the riots and advised young people who were not happy with their privileges to leave Holland.
In Turkey, Erdogan himself jumped into the fray. He accused the Dutch government of Nazism and Fascism and said that the Netherlands will "pay the price" for expelling the Turkish minister. His accusations of the Dutch being Nazis were not well received.
The Dutch government said it would not allow foreign political powers to hold rallies on its soil.
Erdogan hopes that the large number of Turkish people living in Europe will vote to give him more political power in an upcoming referendum. He says that he needs more power to combat the presence of the Islamic state.
The situation has gotten ugly with the Turkish Chief of Police threatening to arrest Dutch diplomats in the country in retaliation for the Dutch government's treatment of the Turkish minister.
The conservative candidate for Prime Minister, Geert Wilders, chastised the protesters with harsh words.
"You are no Europeans, and you will never be."He explained that Turkey would never be allowed into Europe and that Muslim values are incompatible with Western ones.
"Turkey voted for Erdoğan, a dangerous Islamist who raises the flag of Islam. We do not want more, but less Islam. So Turkey, stay away from us. You are not welcome here."This, just days ahead of Dutch elections.
The protests became more heated, with Turkish supporters throwing rocks and shouting "Allah Ackbar!" The war cry has become disturbing to Westerners for its association with Islamic terror groups. Increased violence and difficulty controlling the protesters led the Dutch police to disperse the crowd with water cannons.
The Turkish media reported this as suppressing democracy. Journalists felt the need to take sides after this accusation because of the large number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey.
The events are considered important because of their proximity to the Dutch election. In a few days, Dutch citizens--both dual Turkish and EU--will go to the polls and vote, and those fearing a rising tide of nationalism in Europe think that these protests will give a last burst of fuel to Geert Wilders' campaign.
[Featured Image by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]