ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki said he is lucky to be alive after he was shot at while driving on a highway in Germany on Sunday night.
Naki, who is a well-known critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government’s anti-Kurdish policies, told German media a passing car fired shots at his vehicle near Duren, in western Germany, where the footballer grew up.
“One bullet struck a window—in the middle of my car—the other one hit near a tire,” he told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper. “I immediately ducked and then rolled right to the hard shoulder [of the freeway].”
German police said they were investigating the case and treating it as attempted murder.
Naki, who currently plays for Kurdish team Amedspor SK in Turkey’s second-tier, said he believed the attack was politically motivated.
“I assume [the attack] was an MIT agent [Turkish secret service] or somebody else who doesn’t like my politics,” Die Welt quoted the Kurdish footballer. “I’m attacked on social media constantly.”
The Kurdish footballer has not been a stranger to controversy in the past.
Last April, a Turkish judge gave Naki a suspended jail sentence of 18 months, accusing him of “spreading terrorist propaganda” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In 2016, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) handed him a 12-match ban for “ideological propaganda” linked to comments he made on social media in support of the Kurdish struggle in Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) posted a statement on their Instagram page regarding the attack on Naki, extending their best wishes to the footballer.
Additionally, Cansu Ozdemir, a left-wing Turkish politician in Hamburg, said the attack meant Erdogan’s opponents in Germany were not safe.
“I fear Erdogan’s hit squads will carry on until every intimidated person shuts up,” she wrote on Twitter. “This seriously menacing situation must not be played down any longer.”