Islam a European reality, there to stay, Turkish PM says

Islam a European reality, there to stay, Turkish PM says

Islam a European reality, there to stay, Turkish PM says

PM Davutoğlu said that it is impossible to 'turn back the clock' and pretend that Islam is not an inseparable part of Europe. AA Photo

Islam is a European reality and Muslims across the continent are there to stay, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told journalists while returning from Berlin late on Jan. 12.

“There is a settled persuasion that a solution can be found via accepting that Islam is a European reality,” Davutoğlu said, commenting on the hot debate over rising Islamophobia in Europe.

“This was very clear in Mrs. [Angela] Merkel’s speech today,” he said, in remarks that came hours after a meeting with the German chancellor. “However, I doubt how much of this persuasion has spread among some sections, especially among those with prejudices."

“Islam is there to stay in Europe. Everyone sees this,” he said, adding that today it was impossible to send back Muslims in Europe as if they are just temporary migrants.

Turks have been living in Germany in large numbers for over 50 years, the prime minister said, noting that a rise in racism is linked to economic crises. He particularly highlighted the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEDIGA) in Germany as "sending very dangerous messages."

Many world leaders thanked Davutoğlu for his participation in the Jan. 11 Paris rally to lament the terror attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in the French capital, he said, adding that “Turkey had to be in that picture.”

Meanwhile, addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) group in parliament on Jan. 13, the prime minister said he had raised Turkey’s voice against terrorism with world leaders at the Paris rally.

“We will never let terror be named together with Islam or any other religion,” he said, with a special focus on Israeli raids on Gaza and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s internal fight, describing them as "state terror."

“We are Europeans and we will remain as Europeans. By being there [at the Paris rally], we have cried that Islam is a fundamental religion in Europe. Muslims are members of a religion who have their multiculturalism in the history of both Andalusia and the Ottoman Empire,” Davutoğlu said.

MPs ‘free in corruption voting’

Separately, Davutoğlu said on the plane that he would allow his lawmakers to "freely exercise their consciences" in an upcoming parliamentary vote on whether to send four former ministers to the Supreme Council, while adding that his MPs are of a “collective mind.”

“It’s not right to take a group decision or to sway [lawmakers’ decisions] in the General Assembly. But the AK Party group moves with a collective mind rather than individual assessments. No one should doubt that,” he said.

Deputies will vote on whether to send former ministers Egemen Bağış, Zafer Çağlayan, Erdoğan Bayraktar and Muammer Güler to the Supreme Council to be tried on charges of corruption in the coming days.