Australia’s prime minister said he would summon Turkey’s ambassador in Canberra on Wednesday to explain “very offensive” comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, AFP reported.
Erdoğan, while campaigning for local elections, presented the attack as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam and that warned anti-Muslim Australians would suffer the same fate as soldiers at Gallipoli, a blood-drenched World War I battle.
“I find it a very offensive comment, of course I do, and I will be calling in the Turkish ambassador today to meet with me to discuss these issues,” Scott Morrison told national broadcaster ABC.
Erdoğan had already been sharply rebuked by New Zealand for his comments and for using gruesome video shot by the Christchurch mosque gunman as an election campaign prop.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters protested on Monday that such politicization of the massacre “imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair.”
Peters announced on Tuesday that he would be travelling to Turkey this week to attend a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the rampage that killed 50 worshippers at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
The accused gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, live-streamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Muslim “invaders.”
The manifesto references Turkey and the minarets of Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia, now a museum, that was once a church before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman empire.
“This is not an isolated event, it is something more organized,” Erdoğan said during a campaign event on Monday in Çanakkale in western Turkey.
“They are testing us with the message they are sending us from New Zealand, 16,500 kilometers [10,250 miles] from here.”
Erdoğan did not project the video at the Monday event. Peters said he had complained directly to visiting Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.