Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said that western countries mocking Islam want to “re-launch the crusades against them.
The statement came amid an increase in the confrontation between France and Muslim majority countries over caricatures mocking Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and French president’s effort at linking Islam with terrorism, reported Dawn on Thursday.
While addressing the lawmakers of his AK Party in parliament, President Erdogan said that standing against attacks on the Prophet (PBUH) was “an issue of honour for us”, hinting that Ankara may be digging in for a prolonged standoff.
The row with France flared after a French teacher who showed students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was beheaded in France this month.
In a sign of spreading anger at France’s defence of the right to publish the cartoons, demonstrators denounced France in street protests in several Muslim-majority countries including Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Furthering Turkish anger, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon on its cover ridiculing the Turkish president.
According to Dawan, Erdogan said he had not seen the caricature that mocked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) “because I consider it wrong to even look at these immoral publications” and that his anger was over disrespect towards the Prophet (PBUH) rather than the “disgusting attack directed at me”.
The West has “once again headed to a period of barbarity”, he said, describing colonial powers as “murderers” for their record in Africa and the Middle East.
“They literally want to re-launch the Crusades. Since the Crusades, the seeds of evil and hatred have started falling on these (Muslim) lands and that’s when peace was disrupted.”
Turkish officials said Ankara would take legal and diplomatic steps in response to the caricature, calling it a “disgusting effort” to “spread its cultural racism and hatred”.
The Turkish foreign ministry summoned the charge d’affaires at the French embassy over the magazine cover.
Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop “conservative” Islamic beliefs subverting French values.
France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday issued safety advice to French citizens in Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania, advising them to exercise caution.
They were told to stay away from any protests over the cartoons and avoid any public gatherings.