NEW HEADLINE, DECK; REVISED THROUGHOUT; UPDATED WITH MORE REMARKS BY PRESIDENT ERDOGAN
By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's president on Wednesday once again assailed recent insulting remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
"It is a matter of honor for us to stand sincerely against attacks on our prophet," Erdogan told his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group.
"Unfortunately, we live in an era when hostility towards Islam, Muslims and disrespect for the prophet, is spreading like cancer, especially among leaders in Europe," he added.
Erdogan said that France, and Europe in general, deserve better than the recent vicious, provocative, and hateful policies of French President Emmanuel Macron.
"We call on prudent Europeans to take action against this dangerous trend on behalf of themselves and their children for a bright future," he said.
- ‘No Muslim can be a terrorist’
They tried to excuse the insults against the Prophet Muhammad under the guise of freedom of expression, Erdogan said.
"However, no Muslim can be a terrorist, my brothers and sisters; nor can any terrorist be a Muslim," Erdogan stressed.
"A terrorist is a black-hearted, bloody murderer who does not hesitate to kill innocents in order to achieve his own goals," he added.
On Tuesday’s deeply offensive cartoon in Charlie Hebdo magazine purportedly of him, Erdogan said he would not look at the French weekly.
The Turkish president also criticized Macron’s policy on Lebanon, adding that he would not achieve his goals there.
In the wake of August’s disastrous explosion in Lebanon, Macron tried to "dominate" there but his plans came to nothing and he was turned away, said Erdogan.
They will be turned away everywhere as "they want to start new crusades," the president added.
Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron accused French Muslims of "separatism" and claimed Islam is "a religion in crisis all over the world."
Tensions further escalated after a schoolteacher was murdered for showing his students controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression.
Macron paid tribute to the teacher and said France would "not give up our cartoons."
Insulting cartoons by Charlie Hebdo were also projected on buildings in a few cities.
Earlier this year, the magazine republished cartoons insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
Several Arab countries as well as Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have condemned Macron's attitude toward Muslims and Islam, with President Erdogan saying the French leader needs "mental treatment".
Campaigns in many counties as well as Erdogan have called for a boycott of French products.
- Upper Karabakh
Erdogan also said that in a phone call, he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin talked about resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"We said: 'Let us end the conflict in Caucasus. If you want we can solve this issue together. You hold a meeting with [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan. I will hold a meeting with my brother [Azerbaijani President] Ilham [Aliyev]. Let us smooth over this issue. Let's take a sincere step on this issue. We should finish this," Erdogan said.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27, and since then Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fires since Oct. 10.
Multiple UN resolutions demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.