On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish voters living in Europe they could strike a blow against the “grandchildren of Nazism” by supporting the referendum to give him more power.
At a rally in his family hometown of Rize on the Black Sea, Erdogan said, “we will never allow three or four European fascists” to harm Turkey’s “honor and pride.”
Erdogan really poured on the Muslim solidarity argument in his remarks: “The European Union will not like this. But I don’t care what Hans, George or Helga say, I care what Hasan, Ahmet, Mehmet, Ayse and Fatma say. I care what God says.”
He called on his “brothers and sisters voting in Europe” to “give the appropriate answer to those imposing this fascist oppression and the grandchildren of Nazism.”
Erdogan has been blasting European leaders for refusing to allow his ministers to rally Turks living in European cities to vote in favor of the referendum to expand his powers. Euro leaders have naturally objected to Erdogan and his ministers calling them Nazis.
At a rally in Ankara on Sunday, Erdogan deployed more heavily loaded language by accusing the European Union of forming a new “Crusader alliance” against Turkey. Islamists often claim Europe and the United States are eager to launch a new Crusade against the Islamic nations.
“All the leaders of the EU countries went to the Vatican and listened to the pope submissively. Do you now understand why they have not been taking Turkey into the EU for 54 years? The situation is quite loud and clear, it is a Crusader Alliance. April 16 will also be the day to evaluate this,” said Erdogan, as reported by Hurriyet Daily News. April 16th is the date of the Turkish referendum.
Hurriyet writes that Erdogan peppered his speech with “Koranic verses” and was “often interrupted by chants from the public.”
He also made ominous suggestions that Turkey’s opposition party is effectively staging a coup against him and assaulting the legitimacy of the presidency by opposing the referendum.
The July coup is still very much on Erdogan’s mind. Reuters reported on Monday that at least 262 Turkish diplomats and military personnel are seeking asylum in Germany, reflecting a dramatic surge in applications since the coups.
“The German government said in December that 5,166 Turkish citizens had applied for asylum in the first 11 months of last year, compared with 1,767 applications received in the whole of 2015. Some 80 percent of the applicants were ethnic Kurds,” Reuters adds.
The Turkish government has been urging European nations to reject asylum applications from coup plotters, and from anyone affiliated with exiled imam Fethullah Gulen, who has been portrayed as the mastermind of the coup by Erdogan’s government. (Coincidentally, the British parliament recently released a report that concluded there is no “hard, publicly available evidence” to support Turkey’s contention that Gulen or his movement as a whole were behind the coup attempt, although some individual Gulenists have been accused of playing a role in it.)