Europe turning into open prison for Muslims, Erdoğan says
Europe is becoming an open prison for its Muslim minority, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.
"The virus of Islamophobia, which is as dangerous as the coronavirus, is spreading rapidly, especially in European countries," Erdoğan said at a Koran-reading competition in Ankara on Wednesday, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The Turkish president, who comes from a devout religious background, sees himself as a defender of Muslims in Europe, the Middle East and beyond. His comments on the West’s alleged treatment of Muslims have sparked rebuke from U.S. and European politicians, who say his remarks are inflammatory and lack factual basis.
Racism, discrimination, intolerance and opposition to immigration are just a few of the “social diseases” sweeping across Europe, Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan has previously referred to Palestine as an “open-air prison” during his frequent condemnation of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its refusal to recognise Hamas, which his government supports.
Erdoğan criticised France for its plans to introduce an anti-extremism law, saying the plans faced a backlash from the Muslim community.
“Passing such a bill, which openly contradicts human rights, freedom of belief, and European values, will serve as a guillotine for French democracy,” he said.
Erdoğan says his government aims to make Turkey a member of the European Union even after membership talks were effectively frozen over the country's human rights record. He has urged Europe to accept Turkey, saying it lacks strategic vision.