NBA's Enes Kanter becomes US citizen, makes surname Freedom

NBA player Enes Kanter becomes US citizen, changes surname to 'Freedom'
3 min read
01 December, 2021
Enes Kanter Freedom, an outspoken critic of the Turkish and Chinese governments, took the oath of US citizenship at a ceremony on Monday
Boston Celtics centre Enes Kanter Freedom took his oath of citizenship on Monday [Getty]

The US-based basketball player formerly known as Enes Kanter became a United States citizen on Monday and changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom to mark the occasion.

Freedom, of Turkish heritage and raised in Turkey, took the oath of citizenship at a ceremony on Monday while donning a black t-shirt that read “US Citizen Est. 2021".

“It’s finally happened. I’ve been waiting for this moment since the day I stepped in America… probably the most unforgettable day of my life,’ the Swiss-born centre for the NBA's Boston Celtics team told press after the ceremony. 

He also addressed his change of surname to Freedom.

“I wanted to make that word a part of me because that was the word that I fight for my whole life, and that was the word I’ve tried to stand up for my whole life,” the 29-year-old told reporters.

Freedom, an NBA player since 2011, has long been outspoken on human rights abuses worldwide.

He has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of brutally cracking down on his political opponents, and has called the leader a "dictator" on numerous occasions.

Freedom has publicly expressed his backing and admiration for US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Ankara has issued warrants for Freedom's arrest, for defamation and terrorism.

Freedom has also slammed the Chinese government for committing human rights abuses against the Uighurs, a Turkic, mostly Muslim minority group in China.

Beijing is accused of committing genocide against the Uyghurs by running detention camps and re-education centres, conducting forced sterilisation, and running forced labour camps.

Freedom has urged companies, including NBA sponsor Nike, to cut ties with China until it stops committing human rights violations. He has also urged for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, set to take place February in Beijing.

The Celtics player has been accused of overstepping at times when discussing basketball and US politics. He recently accused NBA legend Michael Jordan of not doing anything to aid Black people in the United States "because he cares too much about his shoe sales", a remark that garnered public backlash.

Many Twitter users congratulated Freedom on his naturalisation, among them Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State for the Trump administration.

Freedom retweeted Pompeo's congratulatory message, and after his Monday appearance on a Fox News show presented by controversial pundit Tucker Carlson, some Twitter users questioned whether Freedom holds the same scrutiny for the United States as he does for other countries.

"Freedom is the result of dissent. While I can support your criticism of China and Turkey, I can’t support your sentiments regarding the US," Twitter user @CarpZuckerberg said.

"We are an imperialist state that oppresses people domestically and abroad. It’s not freedom if it’s not extended to everyone".