Polish MMA Event Accidentally Plays ISIS Nasheed During Aziz Karaoglu’s Walkout

Fightland Blog

By Jake Hughes

Saturday night had all the makings of becoming the finest moment of a veteran European MMA fighter’s career.

Aziz Karaoglu, a 39-year-old German-born middleweight of Turkish descent, was due to face off against long-term KSW champion Mamed Khalidov. The fight proved controversial in so many ways. In the end, Karaoglu lost a hotly-disputed decision to his Polish opponent of Chechen stock, despite Khalidov continually insisting on flopping to his back on the mat.

Karaoglu’s big night was marred from the start. A friendly, affable character as showcased in his pre-fight interview, Karaoglu looked visibly uncomfortable as he walked towards the KSW cage.

Instead of playing the traditional Turkish Dombra music Karaoglu’s fans would be used to hearing as he entered the arena, KSW inexplicably played a Nasheed song instead. While Nasheed is a general term for Islamic acapella music promoting the religion, this particular song, “Naam Qatil”, is one used by ISIS, along with other Jihadist movements in the Middle East, in many of their propaganda videos—including those that showcase the beheadings of the organisation’s victims.

Karaoglu did what any other professional would do and ignored the obvious mistake made backstage. But, the Polish press instantly picked up on the song choice and many allegations were made against Karaoglu’s character. So much so, the middleweight issued a statement in an attempt to distance himself from the error via MMANewsPL.

In the video, Karaoglu eloquently states: “Hello Poland. Hello KSW fans. First, I would like to thank everyone for their support in my fight against Mamed Khalidov. It was a good fight. I enjoy fighting and I give my best for you and for KSW. I just want to say that KSW made a big mistake. They used the wrong song for my entrance—I really wanted to use the same song as against Maiquel Falcao. This can be found on the Internet.

“It was not my fault—it was the fault of KSW. Now, people are talking about Islam and terrorism. I just try to be a good person, to be a good father. Also, Mamed is a good person. He is, like me, not a terrorist. We’re just Muslims and we do not support terrorism. I will return to the cage and fight again in Poland.”

Image via Facebook

KSW issued an official, rather non-committal, statement which does not truly admit responsibility for such a grave oversight, nor does it apologize to Karaoglu. It reads:

“Over the past 12 years we have organized martial arts sporting events, we have always believed these should be based on values that are universal and common to competitors, fans, and everyone involved in their promotion. These values are based on respect, rivalry based solely on sportsmanship and fair play principles.

“As an organization that aims to constantly raise the standards related to mixed martial arts, we categorically distance ourselves from any and all messages of a negative or discriminatory nature, associated with the controversial anthem broadcast upon the entry of Aziz Karaoglu. Over a decade of experience did not safeguard us against the broadcast of a controversial anthem during Friday’s KSW gala. This constitutes a difficult lesson for us, which lets us draw the conclusion that we must strive even harder to improve our internal procedures to prevent any similar occurrence in the future.

“As an organization of international standing, we will take immediate steps to monitor content against any expressions of discrimination or aggression. As part of the sporting world, we openly condemn any and all expressions of hate speech and discriminatory attitudes.”

Not only does Karaoglu deserve a rematch for the fight itself, but he should most definitely be afforded the opportunity for redemption following a disastrous error made in his name through no fault of his own. KSW’s statement provides little indication of that happening any time soon.

Check out this related story:

ISIS Is Training Its Recruits in Their Version of the Octagon