Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the New Zealand mosque shootings Friday to condemn the whole world — especially the West — for standing by “idly” while hostility toward Islam increases.
At least 49 people were killed and 20 wounded Friday when a gunman opened fire on two Islamic mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. According to Reuters, the shooter wrote a 74-page manifesto steeped in white supremacist ideology. (RELATED: New Zealand Shooter Manifesto Reads Like ISIS Literature)
At a Friday funeral for a former Turkish minister, Erdogan lamented that “with this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing.”
“It is clear that the understanding represented by the killer that also targets our country, our people and myself, has started to take over Western societies like cancer,” Erdogan continued, as reported by Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
He pressed Western nations to do more to combat anti-Muslim bigotry, saying, “If measures are not taken right away, news of other disasters will follow this one. I am calling on the world, in particular the West, to take quick measures.” (RELATED: Erdogan Predicts Holy ‘War’ Over Austrian Mosque Closures)
Erdogan on Twitter further blamed rising Islamophobia for the attacks, tweeting, “On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act – the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.”
On behalf of my country, I offer my condolences to the Islamic world and the people of New Zealand, who have been targeted by this deplorable act – the latest example of rising racism and Islamophobia.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RT_Erdogan) March 15, 2019
Erdogan has long been criticized for his government’s treatment of religious minorities, especially Christians. Perhaps most notably, his two-year imprisonment of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson ignited a geopolitical firestorm when the United States levied harsh economic sanctions in retaliation. Only after repeated appeals from President Donald Trump and other high-level officials did Turkey at last relent and allow Brunson to return home in October. (EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Brunson’s American Pastor Describes Harrowing Turkish Courtroom Experience)
“Do not provoke,” he warned. “Look, we have not oppressed any of the Jews in this country. We have not done anything you did to any synagogues here. Don’t provoke us. We will not fall into this trap.” (RELATED: Omar Still Hasn’t Apologized For The Comments That Started The Anti-Hate Resolution)
Turkey served as one of the central regions of the Christian world for centuries until Constantinople fell in 1453 to the Ottoman army under Sultan Mehmed II. The Islamic conquest of the city marked the end of the Byzantine Empire and, according to some historians, the medieval era.
According to Hurriyet Daily News, the New Zealand gunman mentioned the Ottoman conquests in his manifesto and inscribed his weapon with “Vienna 1683,” an apparent reference to the Ottoman siege of Vienna that began on Sep. 11, 1683. The Christian Coalition Army repelled the Turks the next day, thereby ending their advance into western Europe. Some have speculated that the 9/11 attacks were themselves a reference to that historic date.