CORRECTS 'NEW ZEALAND' TO 'TURKISH' IN GRAF 12
By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged the West to stand against racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia after a terror attack in New Zealand.
Erdogan said in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, the West has "certain responsibilities," in an article published in Washington Post newspaper.
"Western societies and governments must reject the normalization of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, which has been on the rise in recent years," he said. "It is crucial to establish that such twisted ideologies, such as anti-Semitism, amount to crimes against humanity."
At least 50 Muslims were killed when a terrorist opened fire on worshippers during the weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, is charged with the massacre.
"We must shed light on all aspects of what happened and fully understand how the terrorist became radicalized and his links to terrorist groups to prevent future tragedies," said Erdogan.
He said all Western leaders must learn from the "courage, leadership and sincerity" of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and embrace Muslims living in their countries.
The massacre was livestreamed on social media, and accompanied by the release of a racist and Islamophobic manifesto that also attacked Turkey and its president.
Erdogan said there were many historical references on the murder weapons and in the manifesto. "The number of times he mentioned both Turkey and myself was both curious and worth deeper consideration” he said without elaborating.
- 'Ignorance and hate'
Tarrant attempted to legitimize his twisted views by distorting world history, the Christian faith and sought to plant seeds of hate among fellow humans, said the Turkish leader.
"As a leader who has repeatedly stressed that terrorism has no religion, language or race, I categorically reject any attempt to associate last week’s terrorist attacks with the teachings, morals or maxims of Christianity," he said. "If anything, what happened in New Zealand was the toxic product of ignorance and hate."
He likened the ideology of the Christchurch attacker to the Daesh terror group that called for a "reconquest" of Istanbul as Tarrant pledged in his manifesto to make the Turkish city "rightfully Christian owned once more."
"In this regard, we must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere," he wrote.
Erdogan contended that Islamophobia and xenophobia were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world.
"We cannot afford to allow this again. If the world wants to prevent future assaults similar to the one in New Zealand, it must start by establishing that what happened was the product of a coordinated smear campaign," he wrote.
The Turkish people will not just abandon their centuries-old homeland because terrorists demand it, he said, adding: "Nor will we ever let deranged murderers talk us into targeting any religious community, nation or group."
Turkey joined the alliance against terrorism immediately after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the U.S. and joined NATO more than 60 years ago.
"We consider it our strategic goal to become a full member of the European Union. By the same token, we will continue to cooperate with our friends and allies in the fight against all terrorist groups," he wrote.