Turkey criticizes Rotterdam mayor for permitting extremist protest at mosque

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Turkey's EU Minister Ömer Çelik

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik on Wednesday lambasted Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb for granting permission to an extremist group to roast pigs in front of a mosque during iftar, the fast-breaking meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“On Thursday, at the time of the breaking of the Ramadan fast, members of this fascist organization will have a barbeque in front of Rotterdam’s Laleli Mosque … and they will roast pigs on spits,” Çelik tweeted.

Far-right German organization Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (Pegida) previously announced on social media that they would roast pigs in front of mosques during this week’s fast breaking hours in the Dutch cities of Rotterdam, Utrecht, Gouda, The Hague and Arnhem.

The Municipality of Rotterdam granted a permit to Pegida, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Eating pork is forbidden for Muslims.

Çelik said this was the most immoral attempt ever in the history of hate crimes.

“Granting legal permission to such an immoral activity is also another deficiency of morality,” he added.

“Other municipalities in the Netherlands did not allow Pegida to roast pigs in front of mosques at the fast-breaking time. However, Ahmet Abutalib, mayor of Rotterdam, who is of Moroccan origin, thinks this activity of Pegida is not against the law. Such a gross tragedy!” said the EU minister.

Çelik also said Turks and other Muslims in Rotterdam would lay flowers around the mosque and “erect a wall of love with flowers against the odor of hate.”

“Muslims will teach a lesson in humanity against this policy of hatred. Thus, they will remind everyone of the respect for mosques, churches and synagogues,” he said.

Relations between the Netherlands and Turkey soured after Dutch authorities canceled the landing clearance of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s plane during last year’s referendum campaign.

According to the Dutch Broadcast Foundation (NOS), Aboutaleb has often been the target of criticism from Turkey since he refused to give Turkish Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya permission to campaign for the referendum, which bestowed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with even more power, at the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam. The Turkish minister was eventually escorted out of the Netherlands, resulting in riots in Rotterdam and a diplomatic fallout between the Netherlands and Turkey. Shortly after this incident, Aboutaleb was accused of having ties with the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding an attempted coup in the country in 2016.

For the parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey on June 24, Sarajevo was the only campaign stop for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Erdoğan as the governments of Austria, Germany and the Netherlands said they would not allow rallies for the Turkish elections to be held within their borders.

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