Fueled by Washington’s anti-Muslim attitude after 9/11, Islamophobia is “spreading like cancer” in the West, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed, adding that those who used to target Jews have now turned on Muslims.
“The US administration’s strategy to demonize Muslims post-9/11 has served as a means to further trigger anti-Muslim sentiment that already existed in the cultural structure of many Western societies,” Erdogan said in a speech at the International Symposium on Media and Islamophobia in Ankara on Tuesday.
The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment has become a serious problem due to the inaction of governments in the EU and the US to challenge it, Erdogan added. Now, right-wing groups which were long considered marginal, have instead become mainstream political forces in many European countries, and those who used to target the Jewish community have turned against Muslims.
Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment have been spreading like cancer cells in many parts of the globe, primarily in the West.
Erdogan blasted the very word ‘Islamophobia’, saying that it was invented by Western societies to sugarcoat what actually is “new racism against Muslims” and “hostility against Islam.”
Ankara’s relations with both Washington and Brussels have been tense in recent years, with Erdogan frequently raising the persecution of Muslims in his jabs against Western leaders.
Erdogan has been increasingly unhappy over American pressure on Turkey to give up on Russian-made S-400 missile systems, Washington’s support for Kurdish militias in Syria, which are deemed terrorists by Ankara, and US reluctance to hand over exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was accused of masterminding a failed military coup in Turkey in 2016.
Earlier this week, Erdogan insisted that he wants “stronger cooperation with our European friends and allies” amid a cooldown in relations between Brussels and Ankara over a whole range of international issues.
EU leaders have expressed concerns over Turkey’s involvement in the fighting in Libya, its support of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and Ankara’s aggressive rivalry for maritime jurisdiction and energy exploration rights in the Mediterranean with Greece and Cyprus.
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