One day after Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told a United Nations forum the world should consider Islamophobia a crime against humanity, “just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism,” his Israeli counterpart lashed back. “I strongly condemn the remarks made by Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, comparing Zionism to fascism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied on Twitter.
Video of Mr. Erdogan’s complete address to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations forum in Vienna was posted online by the United Nations with simultaneous translation into English.
In his remarks, Mr. Erdogan bemoaned “a lack of understanding between religions and sects” and said that the way ahead was “emphasizing the richness that comes from diversity.” After he praised “countries which see cultural and ethnic differences not as a reason for division or conflict but as a richness,” he complained of what he called the world’s indifference to the suffering of Muslims in Syria and elsewhere.
About seven minutes into the video, Mr. Erdogan said:
Unfortunately the modern world has not passed the test when it comes to Syria. In the last two years, we have seen close to 70,000 people lose their lives, and every single day we see innocent children, women, civilians, killed. And the fact that the world has not reacted to this situation seriously injures the sense of justice. In the same way, rising racism in Europe is a serious, problematic area, vis-à-vis the Alliance of Civilizations project.
In addition to indifference vis-à-vis the Muslim countries, we also see harsh, offending, insulting behavior towards Muslims who live in countries other than their own, and this continues to be an inconscionable act that has been ongoing around the world. We should be striving to better understand the beliefs of others but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despiuse them. And that is why it is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.
Mr. Erdogan immediately went on to condemn those, including politicians, who use “the media or mass communication vehicles” for “provoking the sensitivities of a religion or a sect or a society.”
The Turkish prime minister has expressed his anger with Israeli policies in blunt terms at international forums in the past, most notably at Davos in 2009. He stormed off the stage at the end of a heated discussion of Israel’s Gaza offensive, after telling President Shimon Peres, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”
Relations between the countries suffered another blow in 2010, when Israeli commandos killed nine Turks during a bloody raid on the ship leading an effort to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza organized by a Turkish aid organization.
- Erdoğan: Zionism “Crime Against Humanity” (commentarymagazine.com)
- Erdogan calls Zionism a ‘crime against humanity’ (timesofisrael.com)
- The Lede: Video of Turkish Premier Comparing Zionism to Anti-Semitism and Fascism (thelede.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Netanyahu blasts Erdogan for ‘dark and slanderous’ remarks on Zionism (warsclerotic.wordpress.com)
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