Wolf salute during European Championship match

Merih Demiral must apologize officially

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) condemns Turkish national football player Merih Demiral’s display of the wolf salute during the UEFA European Championships round of 16 match between Turkey and Austria yesterday (July 2), once again calling on UEFA to no longer tolerate the showing of the right-wing extremist wolf salute at European Championship matches – not by fans, and especially not by national team players. During the match, the two-goal scorer Demirel had formed the symbol of the “Grey Wolves” with both hands. After the game, he stated that there was no hidden message behind the gesture. He added that he had seen people in the stadium showing the wolf salute and that, hopefully, there would be more opportunities to make this gesture.

“It is an outright scandal that he showed the wolf salute so publicly on the anniversary of the Sivas Massacre. Further, the fact that Merih Demiral celebrated this with a photo of the gesture on X is a mockery of the Alevi victims of the massacre,” stated Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Correspondent of the Society for Threatened Peoples. “We are calling on Merih Demiral to apologize to the millions of Alevis for whom the wolf salute is a symbol of repression and persecution. The Turkish national team should publicly distance itself from the display of the right-wing extremist symbol,” the human rights advocate demanded.

The wolf salute is the sign of Turkish ultra-nationalists: It was displayed during the Sivas Massacre in 1993, during the Maraş massacre against the Alevi population in 1978, the violent crackdown on women’s rights demonstrations, the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, when Kurdish villages and towns were and still are being burned down by the armed forces, and during the illegal occupation of the Syrian-Kurdish region of Afrin by Turkey in 2018. In connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Grey Wolves have also incited hatred against Jews and Israel. Over the last few decades, the ideology of the Grey Wolves also mixed with extreme Sunni Islamism, making it dangerous for women and left-wing democratic movements.