Erdoğan puts century-old Turkish-Australian relations at risk - Spectator Australia

A century of mutual cooperation and trust between Turkey and Australia has been put in serious danger by the Christchurch attacks against two mosques and the subsequent political rhetoric of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Spectator Australia said on Thursday.

Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant killed 50 people and left dozens wounded last week in mass shootings in New Zealand. Tarrant had uploaded what he called a manifesto to his social media accounts before live streaming the attack on his Facebook account.

The manifesto included a section titled "to turks”, in which the writer threatened Turks living on the European side of Turkey and elsewhere in Europe. 

Erdoğan has repeatedly used videos of the Christchurch attack in election rallies for the March 31 local elections, linking last week’s massacre to the World War One allied campaign by British, French, Australian and New Zealand soldiers to capture the Gallipoli peninsula.

“What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here?” Erdoğan said. “The only reason: We’re Muslim, and they’re Christian.”

Visiting Gallipoli in Çanakkale (Dardanelles) on Monday, Erdoğan suggested a repeat of the battle, in which Ottoman forces, commanded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, fought off the invaders.

“Your grandfathers came and saw that we were here. Then some of them walked back, while others left in coffins,” Erdoğan said. “If you come with the same intention, we'll be waiting for you

The Spectator Australia recalled Atatürk’s famous words on the memory of foreign soldiers that fought in Gallipoli against Ottoman forces:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

“The Turks still wonder why we landed there on April 25 when they proudly claim to have won the Dardanelles campaign on March 18,” the newspaper said. “They wonder why we commemorate a defeat, but they understand our pride in those who fought there and those who remain for eternity ‘in their bosom’,” it said, referring to what Australians call Anzac Day, during which Australians travel to Turkey to remember their soldiers.

The recent outrage in Christchurch has changed a friendship between the two nations that was forged on their collective memory, as Erdoğan has sought domestic and perhaps some international political advantage by describing the horror in New Zealand as an attack on Turkey itself and by singling out Australia as the perpetrator, the newspaper said.

“Ataturk cemented Turkey’s place in the modern world,” it said. “Erdoğan wants to return Turkey to what he interprets as its fundamentalist Islamic roots.”