Turkish President Erdoğan urges Muslim countries to warn West against Islamophobia
DHA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Muslim countries yesterday to warn Western countries against a rise in Islamophobia, addressing a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.
“We want our friends in the West to see that Islamophobia has become a serious problem. We also expect Islamic countries to sincerely warn the West over this issue,” he said.
Addressing the 10th session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, Erdogan said the only way to overcome the crisis in the Islamic world was unity, solidarity and alliance.
“This meeting is a great opportunity to discuss the problems of the Islamic world. Because we can resolve every problem as long as we are united,” he said.
Erdogan said Islamic states had to defeat the successors of the iconic British officer Lawrence of Arabia who were seeking to disrupt the Middle East. His comments came ahead of a tour of Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti scheduled to begin Jan. 21.
He said acts of terrorism “never bind Muslims or Islamic countries” and called on the Muslim world to engage in “self-criticism” to define a united route in order to address the challenges. “When the Muslim world remains silent and every sect stands behind their own sympathizers, others are stepping in: terrorists and modern Lawrences,” he said.
British officer T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, helped Arab leaders fight a guerrilla insurgency against the forces of the Ottoman Empire in the desert during World War I. Modern Turkey was built on the ruins of the empire.
Erdoğan has in the past raised up the ghost of Lawrence as a symbol of Western meddling in the Middle East.
“We may be speaking different languages, we may be coming from different regions, and we may have different ethnic roots,” he said. “[But] we must put aside all differences among us in the face of terrorism and racism,” he said.
Erdoğan lashed out at Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists who have captured large swathes of Iraq and Syria right up to the Turkish border which he said was “killing Muslims on the pretext of Islam.” “We must first check and question ourselves. Foreigners are coming, bombing and killing. Why are we leaving problems to others to deal with instead of solving them among ourselves?”
Erdoğan also criticized the U.N. Security Council for making decisions on issues that concern the Muslim world, without having a Muslim member among its permanent members.
“Is there any single Muslim country among the five” permanent members of the U.N. Security Council? “Is the entire world surrendered to the five members? Can justice be there?” he asked.
“We are 56 countries. Won’t we question what our function is? Islamic countries make up almost one-third of the United Nations,” he told the OIC.
“When Israel killed more than 2,500 people, including women and children last year, no Western country or the U.N. condemned Israel for its terrorist deeds as they condemned the French attacks,” he said.
On Jan. 7, 12 people were killed when gunmen attacked French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, which is known for printing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Two days later, four other people were killed in a kosher supermarket in Paris by another gunman.
“There are also several attacks in Nigeria, Libya and in Iraq; why does the West not react against all these terrorist deeds equally?” he asked.
“If the West only condemns the killings targeting artists or journalists, then what about the journalists killed by Israel in Palestine in the past years?” Erdoğan said.
“Terrorists and terrorist groups can never be representatives of Muslims or the Islamic world … to incite Western countries against Muslims is really dangerous. The deeds of the terrorists and the terrorist groups are not the concern of Muslims,” he said.
Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek also called on Islamic countries to cooperate against terrorism.
“The comments which implicate the whole Islamic world after the Paris attack cannot be accepted. Also, freedom of speech cannot be evaluated as a right to insult the values of a religion,” Çiçek said.
Describing the Paris attack as “a crime against humanity,” Çiçek said, “The international community must stand together against Islamophobic incidents which would create clashes among religions, civilizations and sects.”