Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used a religious and ethnic slur to describe non-Muslims while condemning the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for its criticism of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, according to local media reports on Sunday.
“We get upset when we see those who, despite being citizens of the Republic of Turkey, come at us by brandishing the sword of the infidel in order to oppose us,” the president said on Sunday during a meeting with the women’s branch of Turkish NGO the Union of International Democrats (UID) in İstanbul.
Accusing the CHP of being a part of an “insidious plot” targeting the country by voicing the opinions of Western politicians in its criticism of the government, Erdoğan said, “The CHP, once a party that had a particular stance, has now turned into a structure that says whatever people want to hear.”
Garo Paylan, a member of parliament of Armenian descent from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), criticized Erdoğan on social media for using the word “gavur” (infidel), saying, “You use this hate expression knowing that there are citizens who have been victims of hate crimes fed with the slur of ‘gavur’ for generations. Shame on you!”
Erdoğan further said that leaders who were failing at foreign policy and politicians who found themselves in domestic policy binds were attacking himself and Muslims in an attempt to ‘’camouflage their own inadequacies.”
His remarks came in the aftermath of a diplomatic scandal earlier this week that saw European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen left without a chair during a meeting with Erdoğan.
The incident, instantly branded “sofagate” online, has sparked accusations over Ankara’s attitude to women and the EU, following Erdoğan’s decision in March to withdraw Turkey from a key European treaty aimed at protecting women against violence.