Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that Muslims in Europe live in what amounts to an “open-air prison” and that Islamophobia was as dangerous as the Wuhan coronavirus.
The Turkish leader made his statements earlier this week during a television broadcast in which he criticised European countries for “Islamophobia”, saying: “The Islamophobia virus, as dangerous as coronavirus, is spreading rapidly, especially in European countries.”
According to a report from the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, President Erdogan went on to add: “Europe, where 35 million Muslims live today, including six million Turks, is increasingly turning into an open-air prison for our brothers and sisters.”
“In many Western countries, especially in France, being a Muslim, living in a Muslim way, is enough to be discriminated against. Women wearing headscarves, in particular, are the biggest victims of this growing wave of hatred in Europe,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president also claimed that “racist fascists” were attacking Muslims in the streets, on public transport, and in other areas “almost every day”.
He also referred to a debate between French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and populist National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who Erdogan called “the leader of a racist party”, and stated the debate was “embarrassing”.
Turkey’s Erdogan Claims France’s Macron Needs ’Mental' Check over Attitude to Radical Islam https://t.co/BhgC65lC8l
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 25, 2020
The February debate shocked many observers as Darmanin accused Le Pen of being “soft” on Islam.
“You are starting to show softness, you need to take vitamins again. You are not ready to legislate on religion and you say that Islam is not even a problem,” Darmanin said.
Erdogan’s comments come after months of tensions between him and French President Emmanuel Macron after the latter decided to crack down on political Islam and Islamist groups in the wake of the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty.
Erdogan even accused Macron of being mentally unstable in October after the French president defended free speech, just days after Paty was beheaded in the street by a Chechen refugee for showing cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed to his class.
“What’s the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?” Erdogan had said, adding: “Macron needs treatment on a mental level.”
In March of this year, President Macron warned that Erdogan and his government would likely make attempts to interfere in next year’s French presidential elections, saying: “Obviously, there will be attempts at interference for the next election. They’re written, and the threats are not veiled.”
Macron Warns Turkey Will Interfere in 2022 French Presidential Election https://t.co/bQRE7756Bn
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 26, 2021