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Turkish NBA Star Says Ilhan Omar Is On Erdogan’s ‘Payroll’
Enes Kanter #11 of the Boston Celtics smiles during warmups prior to the start of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on October 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter had some harsh words for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after the congresswoman failed to support a bill that would place sanctions on Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria.

Kanter, who is Turkish, was angered because Omar was the only Democrat to vote against the bill aimed at punishing Turkey (15 Republicans also voted against the bill).

“What an absolute disappointment and shame that the only democrat who did NOT support the Turkish bill aiming to stop the killing of innocent people is @IlhanMN who seems like [sic] on #DictatorErdogan’s payroll working for his interests, but not for the American people and democracy!” Kanter tweeted Tuesday night.

As The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra previously reported, Omar has “repeatedly condemned using sanctions against Iran, Turkey, and Venezuela because she claims that sanctions hurt innocent people, yet, Omar has repeatedly called for using sanctions against Israel.” In contrast to her sanction claims against socialist or terrorist-supporting nations, Omar is a vocal advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which would intentionally harm Israel and its people.

Kanter has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the past and has even gone on CNN to express his concerns with the country’s government. In that appearance, Kanter, who is originally from Turkey, said Erdogan “has no respect for human rights,” adding that the country has no democracy or freedom of speech or religion. “I called him the Hitler of our century,” he said of Erdogan.

Kanter may not be far off the mark when he suggested Omar was on Erdogan’s “payroll.” On Thursday, Saavedra reported that one of the Turkish president’s top allies met with Omar last month and donated $1,500 to her re-election campaign.

On the same day Omar voted against the Turkey sanctions, she was also one of only three legislators to vote “present” on a resolution recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide. After the vote, Omar released a statement explaining why she voted “present”:

I also believe accountability for human rights violations—especially ethnic cleansing and genocide—is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics. A true acknowledgement of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of indigenous people in this country. For this reason, I voted ‘present’ on final passage of H.Res. 296, the resolution Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide.

Kanter’s rebuke of Omar stands in stark contrast to some of his NBA colleagues, who have refused to speak up against the human rights abuses in China. The NBA as an organization has chosen to stand with China’s money and condemn Houston Rockers general manager Daryl Morey, who voice support for protesters in Hong Kong who are fighting for their freedom. NBA superstar LeBron James, who has had no trouble voicing his political opinions in the past, has refused to condemn China’s human rights abuses as well.

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