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POLITICS > Turkish PM Erdoğan: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism same

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‘Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,’ says Erdoğan. AA photo

‘Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,’ says Erdoğan. AA photo

Islamophobia must be recognized as a crime against humanity in the same fashion that Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism should be, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday.

Speaking at the “Fifth Alliance of Civilizations Forum” in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, the prime minister underlined the rising trend of fascism across the Europe. “We are facing a world in which racist attacks have gained momentum, terrorism has claimed more lives, and religions and sects treat each other with less understanding,” Erdoğan said.

“In a similar fashion, I must state that rising racism in Europe is a serious problem for the Alliance of Civilizations Project,” Erdoğan said, adding that the “disrespectful” attitudes to Muslims in certain countries hurt consciences.

“Aside from countries indifferent to Muslim countries, disrespectful attitudes toward Muslims living in certain countries continue to hurt consciences,” said Erdoğan.

“We witness very frequently the alienation of the ‘other’ in various countries instead of efforts to understand the culture and beliefs of the ‘other,’” he said.

“Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” Erdoğan said, slamming politicians who use communication tools to deepen the gap between cultures.

“Certain politicians’ defamation of a religion or a sect by mass communication tools only makes pre-conceived notions bigger and deepens the gap,” Erdoğan said.

In a related development, EU Minister Egemen Bağış, who accompanied Erdoğan on the one-day trip, slammed a far-right Belgian politician, Filip Dewinter, after the latter posted a photo on his Twitter account showing a woman and a girl wearing hijabs standing next to garbage bags with a caption reading, “find the 5 differences.”
“Someone stepped up, an insolent person who I don’t feel like calling human, and put together the women wearing hijabs and garbage bags,” Bağış said Feb. 26 in Ankara, describing Dewinter’s move as “Islamophobic.” The post has also drawn criticism in Belgium.

The prime minister also touched on the Mali crisis. “If we evaluate the current developments in Mali as if they were based on religion, it would be a historic mistake,” Erdoğan said.

“Members of different religions in Mali are not fighting against each other. There could be acts of terrorism in Mali but to define such violence as part of a religion would not be correct since no monotheistic religion encourages terrorism. Islam means ‘peace.’ We can never accept arguments that a religion of peace, Islam, encourages or approves terrorism,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey’s EU membership would be a highly meaningful and crucial step for the success of the Alliance of Civilizations, Erdoğan also said, while criticizing world powers over their lack of response to the Syrian crisis. “Unfortunately, the modern globe has not given a good account of itself on the Syrian issue,” Erdoğan said. “When the number of those killed in the past two years in Syria has reached around 70,000, and when dozens of innocent children, women and civilians get killed in Syria, the world’s silence seriously hurts the feelings of justice.”

In addition to Bağış, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız and Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin also joined Erdoğan on the trip.

February/28/2013

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