With a string of pro-Islam, anti-Israel and anti-Western stances to his credit, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is fast-making his mark as anything but the moderate leader of a country that once sought to emulate countries like Germany, rather than theocracies like Iran.
His latest controversial remarks came while speaking at the Fifth Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace this week when he stated that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity" in the vein of anti-Semitism and fascism. What's more, the prime minister included Zionism as being akin to fascism and alas, yet another crime against humanity.
“Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” Erdoğan said, before he condemned political leaders who he claimed defame religion.
“Certain politicians’ defamation of a religion or a sect by mass communication tools only makes pre-conceived notions bigger and deepens the gap."
“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...Aside from countries indifferent to Muslim countries, disrespectful attitudes toward Muslims living in certain countries continue to hurt consciences.”
Erdogan also spoke of the bloodshed in Mali, claiming religion has nothing to do with the carnage. He said it would be a "mistake to "evaluate the current developments in Mali as if they were based on religion."
“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."
The Turkish prime minster also said that his country's EU membership would be a significant step for the success of the Alliance of Civilizations.