By Nilay Kar Onum
ISTANBUL (AA) - A U.S.-based academic has praised Turkey for its role in combating Islamophobia.
“Turkey has actually taken a very active role in confronting Islamophobia. I also think the way it’s being done is very impressive,” said Anne Norton, Professor of Political Science and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency.
“I also think that because Turkey has such a rich heritage between East and West.”
Norton was speaking on the sidelines of the 2nd International Conference on Islamophobia at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University which runs for three days.
Last month, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an emergency meeting in Istanbul at the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the term president of the block, to combat anti-Muslim hatred in the wake of the March 15 terrorist attacks on two mosques in New Zealand.
At least 50 Muslim worshippers were massacred and as many injured when a man opened fire during Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.
Norton said people have become more “accepting” across the world, despite some “horrible incidents”.
“For example, in German groceries, it is very easy to find Turkish foods. In the U.S., most of the meat now is halal. It’s just for everyone, because why not?
“Little things like this show that people are becoming more accepting, even though we have to confront these horrible incidents like Christchurch, which is really devastating,” she said.
- New Zealand’s response
Norton said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's response to the attacks was “fabulous”.
“For example, the fact that she covered her hair I thought indicated that ‘this is one country, and I am your fellow citizen, and I am your prime minister’.
“I think she was not just saying but also demonstrating that ‘Islam is a part of New Zealand, and we are a country together, and Islam has a place here’.”
Just after the attacks, hundreds of people gathered in front of the mosques to pay tribute to the victims as Ardern called for unity and solidarity with the Muslim community.
Less than a month after the massacre, New Zealand’s Parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill restricting the use of semiautomatic weapons.
Mentioning a rise in authoritarianism in Europe and the U.S., Norton said, “In general, democracy is much better for Islam. I think Islam is itself a more open and democratic religion.”
“I think democracy is very good at accepting people, but authoritarian leaders are not. They are always dangerous, but they are particularly dangerous for minorities.”