Erdoğan accuses Macron of targeting Islam, Muslims

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday accused his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron of pursuing Islamophobic policies, saying the French president was targeting Islam and Muslims.

Anti-Islam policies have "become a useful device’’ for some Western countries "to mask their own failures," state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying in a speech delivered  during an Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting via video link.

"The latest examples of this would be the terms ‘French Islam,’ ‘European Islam,’ and ‘Austrian Islam’ being brought into the spotlight,” Erdoğan said.

Such moves, especially those by French President Macron, are actually meant to target Islam and Muslims, he added.

Earlier this month, Macron announced a plan to defend France’s secular values against what he termed as “Islamist radicalism,” saying the religion was “in crisis” all over the world. The French president’s remarks have prompted a backlash in the Muslim world, with Erdoğan labelling them  "a dangerous provocation.’’

The Turkish president called on Muslims wordwide to protect their communities from dangers such as terrorism and racism, which threaten to damage Islamic communities from within.

There is a desire to "establish an anti-Islamic system wherein religion is only practiced at home, without permission for religious principles and symbols in the streets, workplaces, downtown, or social life,"  Erdoğan said.

Macron’s plan includes presenting a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.

Erdogan said, “a system under which state controls religion can’t be democratic, and can only be considered totalitarian. Those who are disturbed by the rise of Islam attacking our religion.”