Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has characterized the Dutch government as having elements of Nazism and Fascism, according to an article by the BBC, in response to the Netherlands standing in the way of his efforts to gather votes for the upcoming Turkish referrendum in April.
The Dutch government’s decision to ban Turkish politicians from visiting the Netherlands, including a Turkish MP who was trying to campaign on behalf of Erdogan and whose plane was turned away, sparked protests in front of the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.
The Netherlands house a sizeable Turkish minority; Erdogan has been trying to woo the Turkish diaspora in Europe to back him on a controversial referendum, which would, among other things, give him the executive powers to dissolve parliament and essentially destroy any checks and balances currently in the Turkish government.
Social media went awry with a mix of dark humor and conspiracy theories as users reacted to Erdogan, the protests in the wake of the upcoming Dutch election, and the link between them all.
Take, for instance, this user, who seems to think that Erdogan and Geert Wilders, an anti-Islam conservative hardliner running for prime minister of the Netherlands, are in cahoots with each other:
Erdogan will get Wilders elected PM of the Netherlands, and Wilders will get Erdogan elected Turkey's President for life?#Symbiosis— Weddady (@weddady) March 11, 2017
Note: Turkey is a Muslim-majority country, and Islam is the religion of many European Turks.
This person not only blames Erdogan for aiding the alt-right Dutch politician in his political endeavors, but also strives to prove the Turkish President’s political influence in other European states:
Working on my next article: How Erdogan elected Geert Wilders and Marie LePen, and ousted Merkel #Rotterdam— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 11, 2017
One user went conspiracy theory all the way:
So, Flynn works for Erdoğan. Erdoğan works for Wilders. Wilders works for Trump. What a weird, terrible world we live in.— Moustafa Bayoumi (@BayoumiMoustafa) March 12, 2017
Meanwhile, this user wisely noted that the timing for Wilder’s campaign couldn’t have been better:
And this user claimed that the Dutch government’s decisions to ban foreign campaigning in the Netherlands was actually counterproductive:
Dutch government seems bent on helping Erdogan win referendum and Wilders win election— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) March 11, 2017
Lastly, there were this dazed Twitter user’s musings about the current state of affairs:
Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, Orban, Putin, Erdogan, Assad, Iran, KSA....we're already in a parallel universe.— Cate Blanchett (@Caarte_Blanche) March 1, 2017
The Erdogan-induced uproar comes three days before the Dutch general election, in which one of the frontrunners is a Trump-esque, blatantly anti-Islam candidate, Geert Wilders. The ultra-conservative politician is seen by some to be bigoted and racist, while others claim he will help take back the Netherlands from its Muslim immigrant population. Geert is one of many populist candidates on the rise across the West who have capitalized on people's dissatisfaction with the status quo regarding immigration in their respective countries.