“Reckless” and “highly offensive” comments made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre have been condemned in Australia, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning he would consider “all options” in reviewing bi-lateral ties between the two countries.
The Turkish leader continues to use video of the terror attack on the campaign trail ahead of Turkey’s March 31 local elections, painting Friday’s rampage that killed 50 people as part of an overall assault on Turkey and Islam. Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the shootings that targeted two mosques in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Erdogan also warned that anti-Muslim Australians visiting the country would be “sent back in coffins” like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, which was the scene of a failed attack by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops in World War 1.
“What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here?” Erdogan said. “The only reason: We’re Muslim, and they’re Christian.”
“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Mr. Morrison responded after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.
“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn,” said Mr. Morrison, who also faces an election challenge in coming months.
“I’ve asked for these comments, particularly their reporting of the misrepresented position of Australia on Turkish television, the state-sponsored broadcaster, to be taken down and I expect that to occur.”
He described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the attack as “vile” and accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — the father of the modern state and a revered figure in Turkey — to honour peace between the two countries.
A memorial at the battlefield carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets… after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and, an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to enter the diplomatic fracas, however Foreign Minister Winston Peters is now travelling to Turkey “to set the record straight” on the matter, as Breitbart News reported.
AFP contributed to this report
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