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Dutch police break up ‘massive’ Turkish vote brawl

Netherlands vote

Turkish residents queue to vote for Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections in a polling station in Deventer, central-eastern Netherlands on April 29, 2023, as the polls are open for Turkish citizens living abroad. Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP

Dutch police broke up a “massive” fight involving hundreds of people at an Amsterdam polling station for Turkey’s general election, in which at least two people were injured, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Dutch police on Monday.

The brawl kicked off late Sunday at Amsterdam’s RAI conference center, where Turkish-Dutch voters can cast their ballots ahead of next weekend’s crucial election, police and Dutch media said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces the toughest election of his two decades in power, in a vote accompanied by rising tensions and polarizing rhetoric.

Amsterdam police said they were called to the scene at around 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) as the “organization responsible for the safe conduct of the elections told police that the situation was spiraling out of control.”

Upon arrival, police “found a chaotic situation inside the RAI with a massive brawl involving some 300 people,” police said in a statement, adding that “at least two people were injured.”

Dutch media on Monday showed images of numerous police, some in riot gear or with dogs, intervening to keep clashing groups apart.

The fight, which broke out shortly before the polling station closed, was apparently sparked by an argument between representatives of opposing parties, the NOS public broadcaster said.

A witness told the NOS there had been tensions in the RAI in recent days, but that the situation had exploded on Sunday night.

“There was screaming, panic and chaos,” the witness said.

Peace returned to the polling station a few hours later, police and news reports said.

“An investigation is underway to determine whether any criminal acts have been committed,” police said.

The brawling parties were not named.

The Turkish-Dutch community in the Netherlands numbers some 440,000 people, many descendants of guest workers who migrated to Europe during the 1960s and 70s.

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