Dutch media fails to report death of Turk in jail

Dutch media fails  to report death  of Turk in jail

İhsan Gürz (L), who was recently found dead in a detention cell at a Dutch police station, is shown here with his family.

July 10, 2011, Sunday/ 13:12:00

The Dutch media has remained indifferent to the death of a man of Turkish origin while in police custody at a police station in the Netherlands, which Turkish civil society groups say is an outrage.

İhsan Gürz, the 22-year-old victim of alleged police brutality, was detained by Dutch police on July 2. Gürz was found dead in his cell 12 hours after he was taken into custody.

In stark contrast to Turkish newspapers that reported the death of a Nigerian immigrant at a police station in İstanbul on their front pages for days, the incident involving Gürz was covered by only a single local newspaper in Holland -- the Noordhollands Dagblad. The daily claimed that police had to use force when detaining Gürz because he resisted. They also claimed that Gürz was under the influence of illegal drugs when the incident occurred. Dutch television station RTV Noord-Holland also put up a brief story about the young man’s death on its website.

It wasn’t clear whether an autopsy had been carried out before Gürz’s funeral. Dutch police and other officials Today’s Zaman contacted declined to comment.

Arif Yakışır, head of the Rotterdam based Federation of Turkish Islamic Culture Associations, said, “In fact, [Geert] Wilders’ racist discourse has caused prejudice against foreigners and Turks. The way people look at us has changed. We know that this attitude is reflected in the police force. I have been here for 40 years, but I have never seen anybody being shackled as they were being taken into custody. I don’t know if they do it when they place suspects inside the police car, but they never do that as they take people to the vehicle.”

Gürz’s parents claimed that police put leg cuffs around his ankles before taking him away. Yakışır said his organization was going to send a letter of condemnation to the police department implicated in the incident and the Ministry of Interior.

Head of the Islamic Federation of the Netherlands, also based in Rotterdam, Mehmet Yaramış, said: “We strongly condemn this incident and we will follow up on the case. Our higher council will release a statement. It is difficult to say anything as the investigation is ongoing, but can we say that there is racism involved? Certainly, we can.”

Yaramış also said racism in Holland, particularly against those of Muslim backgrounds, surfaced with the assassination of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a religious fundamentalist. “It has been on the rise though with Wilders’ racist statements. Currently, the intensity of racism and racist violence against foreigners in Holland is higher than [any other Western country]. Police here treat foreigners very differently. Let alone criminal cases, they make you feel that you are a foreigner even when they are giving you a parking ticket.”

Meanwhile, Today’s Zaman received various angry comments from Dutch nationalists, most of who denied that there could ever be torture in their country.

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