Wed 14 April 2021:
Islamophobia has turned into one of the instruments used by Western politicians to cover up their failures, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday.
Speaking at a meeting with the women’s branch of the Union of International Democrats (UID), a Turkish nongovernmental organization (NGO), in Istanbul, Erdoğan said: “Politicians who fail in foreign policy, get stuck inside and put their personal rivalries before their offices, try to camouflage their inadequacy by attacking myself and Muslims.”
Racist attacks targeting Muslims or immigrants increasingly make the headlines as white supremacists become more efficient in an age where their ideals, or at least parts of them, are going mainstream. There is no single large group orchestrating these attacks against Muslims and immigrants. Rather, individual attacks lead to more copycat attacks.
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The tolerant political climate under the pretext of freedom of speech has helped far-right sympathizers with violent tendencies expand their support.
Germany, for instance, has been recording Islamophobic crimes separately since 2017. In 2018, there were 910 incidents, including 48 attacks on mosques alone, a little lower than in 2017 with 1,095 crimes. In 2019, some 871 attacks targeted the Muslim community in Germany, while the 2020 data has not been announced yet.
Every other day throughout the course of 2019, a mosque, an Islamic institution, or a religious representative in Germany was targeted in anti-Muslim attacks. More than 90% of these were attributed to politically motivated crimes by the far-right. Germany is home to 81 million people and the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Of the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, at least 3 million are of Turkish descent.
Islamophobia is being disguised as secularism in France, a French opposition leader had said in criticism of the Emmanuel Macron-led government, which has recently come under fire for policies against French Muslims and just passed an anti-hijab bill.
Under the pretext of the “Islamization” of the countries they live in, racist terrorists switched from attacks on mosques to mass killings. Anders Behring Breivik, who slaughtered 77 people in July 2011 in Norway, is viewed as an inspiration for more attacks that followed. Four years later, Anton Lundin Pettersson, harboring similar views as Breivik, killed four students with immigrant backgrounds in Sweden. In 2016, 10 people were killed in Germany’s Munich in another racist act of terrorism. On Feb. 19, 2020, in the German town Hanau, Tobias Rathjen, a terrorist harboring racist views, gunned down nine people of immigrant backgrounds, including five Turkish nationals, before killing himself. The Hanau attack ignited the debate over the seriousness of far-right terrorist threats often ignored by authorities. It was one of the worst acts of terrorism with racist motives in recent memory.
“Those who are still trying to squeeze the European Turks into the narrow patterns of the 1960s do not want to accept the reality of a growing and strengthening diaspora,” the president continued and gave the example of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Tureci to point at how the times have changed.
“The success achieved by our teachers Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci in developing the COVID-19 vaccine has clearly shown what our people can do if they are supported and given the opportunity,” he said.
Europe, a continent that quickly turned into the epicenter of the pandemic, is scraping through the crisis, as each country fends for itself while the European Union fails to come up with a collective response. Still, the Turkish diaspora on the continent holds onto its determination to overcome the coronavirus outbreak and are making do with what European states have to offer. Longing for their homeland, however, breeds discouragement.
Erdoğan also criticized the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for siding with the West whenever it got the chance.
“We get upset when we see those who come upon us by waving the sword of the infidel in order to oppose us,” he said.
“Turkey’s record and the last 19 years of success, we hit our mark with our women and our young people,” Erdoğan continued.
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