President Erdogan blamed French security forces and said that “Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres.”
Turkey’s Islamist President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has lashed out at the West, blaming French intelligence and “Western hypocrisy” for the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
President Erdogan made the remarks while receiving Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his palace. It follows pieces by leading Turkish newspapers aligned with Erdogan’s Islamist ruling AKP party which blamed the victims for the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.
Erdogan strongly implied that the French security forces either knew about or could have prevented the attacks. He asked “French citizens carry out such a massacre and Muslims pay the price. That’s very meaningful … Doesn’t their intelligence organization track those who leave prison?”
“The West’s hypocrisy is obvious” Erdogan said. “As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres. Behind these lie racism, hate speech and Islamophobia.” He then added “Please, the administrations in those countries where our mosques are attacked need to take measures.”
Erdogan was referring to reprisal attacks carried out on mosques in France by suspected far-right extremists.
He also criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for attending the rally of world leaders and French citizens protesting against terrorism and in favor of freedom of speech in Paris on Sunday. Erdogan accused the Israeli leader of complicity in state terrorism and therefore unfit to protest against terrorism. This fits into a long pattern of Erdogan lashing out against Israel, despite a previously friendly relationship between the two countries. The Turkish president has also backed the terrorist group Hamas, and recently welcomed Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to speak at the annual AKP party conference.
Erdogan did not attend the Paris unity rally in person. Instead, Turkey’s Prime Minister Davotuglu attended. Davotuglu also on Tuesday went to Germany, where he strenuously denied accusations that Turkey had allowed the alleged accomplice and girlfriend of one of the Charlie Hebdo terrorists to slip across the porous border with Syria.
Erdogan’s statements were made in the context of increasingly brazen support for Islamists as well as Turkey’s Ottoman Empire. He met Abbas flanked by elaborately dressed guards clad in Ottoman era uniforms in a full ceremony as a visiting head of state. Nostalgia for Turkey’s imperial past has been a growing theme in Erdogan’s public discourse recently, alongside an increase in Islamist rhetoric and an authoritarian clampdown on dissent within Turkey. In December 2014, Erdogan ordered sweeping arrests of a slew of leading opposition journalists.
Meanwhile, last week Turkish police raided the printing press of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet as a special a four-page selection of Charlie Hebdo’s new issue was being prepared for distribution. The section was an act of solidarity with the French satirical magazine. Distribution of the paper was blocked until police had confirmed that no images of Mohammed appeared.
A Turkish language version of Charlie Hebdo will be sold. Gerard Biard, the new editor in chief, said that the Turkish language edition was the “most important” out of five foreign language editions being put out this week, since “Turkey is in a difficult period and secularity there is under attack.”
The cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo features a cartoon of the founder of Islam Mohammed crying a single tear while holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign.
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