Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Europe and the Islamic world of remaining silent in the wake of attacks on two mosques in New Zealand on Friday that claimed the lives of 50 people, saying that it is only Turkey which has raised its voice against the slaughter.
Speaking on a TV program aired jointly by the Kanal 7 and Ülke TV stations on Monday evening, Erdoğan said: “We have not heard anything from Europe yet [about the New Zealand attacks]. The Western media covers it in a sinister way. There is also no voice from the Islamic world. It is only Turkey that makes comments and assessments [about the incident].”
The Turkish president also said he sent the vice president and foreign minister to New Zealand with a large delegation to have talks with the authorities there.
“What saddens me most is that they [Europe] talk about peace and freedoms, but they display a different attitude about a terrorist there,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish president is being accused of capitalizing on the tragedy in New Zealand for domestic political purposes ahead of local elections on March 31.
Erdoğan has played blurred clips of a video of the massacres at campaign rallies in several Turkish cities over the past few days, to fire up his conservative Islamist supporters and attack his political opponents ahead of local elections. But his use of the footage drew a rebuke Monday from New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said the dissemination of the video could endanger his country’s citizens.
Erdoğan has long cast himself as a champion of Muslims living in the West, condemning anti-Muslim racism in Europe while portraying many of Turkey’s squabbles with Western nations as stemming from prejudice.
He has frequently brought those grievances and other populist issues to the forefront during elections.