ISIS and European far-right are two sides of same coin - AKP spokesperson

Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has compared the European far right to the extremist jihadist Islamic State during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Çelik had been discussing Turkey’s troubled relations with Germany, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the country last weekend.

The visit marked efforts by Turkey to mend its ties with Germany after a tense period during which German nationals have been imprisoned in Turkey and the Germany Chancellor, Angela Merkel, portrayed as a Nazi in Turkish press.

The AKP, meanwhile, was outraged by the German government’s refusal to allow political rallies by the party for the large Turkish population in the country in the last two major elections, in 2017 and this year.

However, the countries have found ample reason to put their differences aside since then, with Germany willing to help prop up the Turkish economy after a severe downturn this year, and both sides willing to collaborate on the issue of migrants.

“The events in Syria, in the Middle East, in the Arab Spring show how important Turkey’s relations with Germany are. But there are also circles which wish to portray these in a negative light,” said Çelik.

“These far-right circles have taken cover behind Islamophobia and enmity towards Erdoğan and Turkey,” he continued.

“Whatever Da’esh stands for in the Middle East, thats what the far right stands for in Europe. Looking more closely, we see that the words and actions of Da’esh feed the far-right and vice versa,” said Çelik, using a term for ISIS common in Turkey and Arab countries.

While ISIS exploded onto the world’s agenda in 2014, when it conquered large swathes of Syria and Iraq and governed these territories under a brutal self-proclaimed Caliphate until its defeat by an international coalition last year, the far right in Europe also has a history of terrorist and racially motivated attacks on Muslims.

In Germany, a far right group burned down a Turkish family’s house in Solingen in 1993, killing five people, and in the 2000s the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground conducted a terrorist bombing campaign across the country.

However, in this instance Çelik referred specifically to German legal pressure on the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), the country’s largest mosques’ association which helped build a mosque in Cologne that Erdoğan opened during his visit.

DITIB is known for its close links to Ankara, and the German government reduced its subsidies to the group after reports that it had been involved in spying for the Turkish government.