Turkish soccer fans disrupted a moment of silence honoring the victims of the Paris attacks before their team drew, 0-0, against Greece in a friendly on Wednesday.
This is at least the second time this year that Turkish fans have whistled and chanted through a moment of silence honoring victims who died in terror attacks. In October, a group of fans disrupted a moment of silence before Turkey beat Iceland, 1-0, in a Euro 2016 qualifier. The moment of silence was held for the victims of the attacks in the country’s capital of Ankara in October.
In both situations, the Turkish team did not join the cacophony and instead mostly bowed their heads to observe the moment.
The chanting was not meant to be a show of disrespect for the victims, however, says Ahmed Bedier, a frequent media commentator on Islamic issues.
“Fans were chanting a popular Turkish chant against terrorism,” he said via his Facebook page. “It has become common practice for Turkish fans to chant during moments of silence [to] honor the victims.”
Turkey’s manager Fatih Terim disagreed with the method, though, and expressed his disapproval of the fans’ behavior after the match.
“These whistles damage the image of our country,” he said via L’Equipe and translated by Deadspin. “There were two matches on Tuesday canceled because of this terror. This is not child’s play. Terrorist threats are very serious. We must think. We cannot remain passive in our country facing what is happening. It’s not us. You realize there is not even a minute’s silence. My God. I cannot justify what happened. But if we act together, we can prevent the sport from being sacrificed to terrorism.”
Turkish fans may have a unique reason for making noise during what are meant to be silent memorials, but they are not alone in their refusal to observe them.
For unknown reasons, a small but vocal minority of fans reported to be Bosnian also disrupted a moment of silence for the victims on Monday when the team lost, 2-0, to Ireland in a Euro 2016 qualifier. Irish fans, who made up the majority of the audience in Dublin, then responded with their own jeers directed at the shouting fans.
Again, both teams stood in silence to observe the moment.
At least one soccer personality is speaking out about his misgivings on the moments of silence, however, which may shed light on why some fans have also reacted with what many see as disrespect by interrupting the silent observations.
On Tuesday, after Syria beat Singapore 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier, Syria’s Coach Fajr Ibrahim questioned why the victims of the Paris attacks being claimed by ISIS are receiving recognition while other victims of terror — and specifically those killed in Syria — have not.
“We stand now 30 seconds for French, but all Syrian people killed, no one stand one second, you have to know this,” Ibrahim told reporters (via Agence France-Presse). “We fight all terrorists. We fight all terrorist groups, Syria fight all terrorist groups… we kill all terrorists around the world.”
Ibrahim, a supporter of Syria’s current controversial leadership, went on to dedicate the win to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
This article has been updated multiple times, including with comments from Turkey’s manager.