Erdoğan says ISIL, al-Qaeda inflict greatest harm on Islam

Erdoğan says ISIL, al-Qaeda inflict greatest harm on Islam

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Erdoğan says ISIL, al-Qaeda inflict greatest harm on Islam

AA photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed terror organizations including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaeda for “blatantly abusing Islam,” stressing that these groups inflict a greater harm on the religion than its “most fierce enemy.”

“The oppression of those who appear under the names of Daesh [ISIL], Boko Haram and al-Qaeda, and blatantly abuse Islam, are purely directed at Muslims,” Erdoğan said during a “Holy birth week” event organized by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) at Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Sports Arena on April 17 to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad. 

Erdoğan said Muslims were obliged to “protect their dignity” in the face of rising terrorism and sectarianism, while urging all believers of Islam to unite and cooperate. 

“We do not know of a religion called ‘Shia’ or ‘Sunni.’ We only have one religion and it is called Islam,” he said, calling on Muslims to gather under Islam’s “integrating roof.”

“These [branches of Islam] will never be a cause for separation,” Erdoğan told the audience. 

In his speech, Turkey’s president also challenged the use of “jihad” by terror organizations and claimed that jihad does not mean terrorism. 

“[Jihad] is not forming a terror group and oppressing Muslims, killing innocent people,” he said. “If we are to talk of a jihad today, the greatest jihad is one waged against ignorance and sedition that provides fertile ground for the emergence of these enemies of Islam and Muslims.”

Erdoğan also asked for a reorientation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which held its summit in Istanbul over the past week, suggesting the organization should fulfill its “great potential” by concerning itself with resolving conflict in Muslim nations. 

“When we look at those in charge of resolving instabilities, crises and terrorism in predominantly Muslim countries, unfortunately, we do not see this organization. Whereas in fact, this should be its prime duty,” he said, stressing Turkey would continue its efforts to transform the OIC, especially during its term presidency, which will continue for the next two years.