UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY PRESIDENT ERDOGAN
By Dilan Pamuk
ANKARA (AA) – The disease of Islamophobia is making Europe into an open-air prison for the millions of Muslims living there, warned Turkey’s president on Wednesday.
"The virus of Islamophobia, which is as dangerous as the coronavirus, is spreading rapidly, especially in European countries," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in the Turkish capital Ankara.
The situation in Europe is alarming, and turned into a serious security risk for Muslims living there, he said at a competition on reading the Quran.
Erdogan said racism, discrimination, opposition to immigration, and intolerance are only a few of the “social diseases” raging across Europe.
Telling how nearly 35 million Muslims are living in Europe – including almost 6 million who have roots in Turkey – he said the continent "is increasingly turning into an open-air prison for our brothers and sisters."
Turkey is recent years has sounded the alarm on rising Islamophobia in Europe, decrying incidents of violence and discrimination against Muslims as well as the rise of Islamophobic politicians and parties.
-‘Guillotine for French democracy’
Erdogan voiced increased concern over the French government’s insistence on passing an “anti-extremism” law despite a backlash from the Muslim community.
“Passing such a bill, which openly contradicts human rights, freedom of belief, and European values, will serve as a guillotine for French democracy,” he said.
Warning that steps taken out of stubbornness are more likely to cause more harm than good, Erdogan called on French President Emmanuel Macron and other officials to “act reasonably.”
“We expect the French government to desist from this bill, which was passed by the Senate on April 12, at once. I would like state that Turkey is ready to cooperate with everyone, including France, on counter-terrorism and integration,” he continued.
Returning to his oft-repeated theme of the need for reform to the international system, including the UN Security Council, Erdogan said: “Together, we have witnessed the justification of our call ‘The world is greater than the five,’ which we have said for years at the United Nations podium.”
He said that developed countries and international institutions “failed the test” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Those who keep talking about human rights do nothing about billions of people’s access to the vaccine under proper conditions,” he argued.
“The fact that nearly 100 countries in the world have not obtained the first dose of the jab, and that certain countries want to take vaccines that they avoided giving to their own citizens due to the risks and send them to Africa and Asia under the guise of aid are enough to show the gravity of the situation.”