The Turkish authorities deny any wrongdoing in the Koser Kaya case. Last Thursday Dutch television revealed that Ankara influenced the 22 November general elections in the Netherlands. Fatma Koser Kaya, a Dutch woman of Turkish origin, was elected against all odds as a member of the Dutch Parliament after an email called upon Dutch voters of Turkish origin to vote for the woman because “the Turkish community is threatened by assimilation” and “no-one can represent Turks better than Turks.” The email was sent from the Turkish ministry of Religious Affairs to several thousand Dutch voters of Turkish origin.
The email was sent by Ali Alaybeyoglu, the advisor of Mehmet Aydin, the Turkish minister of Religious Affairs and the Affairs of Turkish Emigrants. Both Alaybeyoglu and his boss deny sending the e-mail. According to Alaybeyoglu other people have access to his e-mail, while the minister said he strongly disapproves of governments interfering in the internal political affairs of other nations.
This weekend Gökhan Genc, the chairman of the Turks Forum Nederland, also said that the e-mail had not been written by Alaybeyoglu. Genc said it was sent to Alaybeyoglu by someone in the Netherlands. The Turkish Forum is an organisation which is present in many countries and works closely with the Turkish government. According to Genc, Alaybeyoglu forwarded the e-mail to the chairman of the U.S. Turkish Forum “for his judgement.” The latter apparently added the e-mail to a mailing list of 200,000 addresses. According to Genc the majority of these addresses did not belong to Turks living in the Netherlands.
Nuri Karabulut, the chairman of the Turkish Workers Organisation (DIDF) in the Netherlands, says, however, that he received the e-mail several times. Karabulut is the man who approached Dutch television with the story. “It is a fact that the Turkish authorities try to influence immigrants abroad,” he says, adding that the campaign in favour of Koser Kaya is proof of this.
The Turkish Forum in the Netherlands campaigned on behalf of Koser Kaya. Prior to the elections it distributed posters and leaflets among Dutch voters of Turkish origin with the message “Let us bring this valuable lady into the House of Representatives. Let us teach them a lesson. [...] Give those who restrict us with regard to our democratic rights a lesson by way of the ballot box.”
Meanwhile nationalist Turks in the Netherlands react angrily to the allegations that Ankara has anything to do with the way they voted. On a Dutch Turkish website some complain that Ankara is being criticised while “Israel permanently tries to influence the way Jews vote.” Others say that the Dutch must learn what democracy is and accept the democratic outcome of the elections, instead of treating Turkish voters as second-rate citizens: “Why do you never hear anyone criticizing the Chinese and their religion, why don’t they have to assimilate? […] Anyway, I am happy that there are no longer one or two Turks in the Dutch Parliament, but four. I hope that in ten or twenty years from now this number will be much greater, and that Parliament will come to resemble Amsterdam and Rotterdam.” Amsterdam and Rotterdam are cities with large immigrant populations. These determined the outcome of the last local elections by voting overwhelmingly for candidates of their own ethnic group.