May 12 2018

Turkey’s Erdoğan rails against French racism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made Francophobia the centrepiece of a speech to international relations students on Saturday, after several days of hectoring the European country for a manifesto which proposed to alter the text of the Quran.

France under President Emmanuel Macron has been the most vocal European opponent of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish groups in Afrin in northern Syria, which took place earlier this year.

“This France did not half oppress Africa,” Erdoğan was quoted by Hürriyet as saying.

“These French murdered five million people in Algeria. They did the same in Libya. But you have seen what they have done recently in Turkey? What have we done to them?”

A manifesto published by 300 French intellectuals on April 21 called for verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, to be “struck to obsolescence” in order to prevent them being used to justify hate attacks against those of other religions.

Erdoğan, as well as some of his other presidential rivals, has made much of the manifesto in his campaign speeches, making out that changing the Quran is French official policy.

“Our biggest strength against those who would design not only the material riches of the countries they have colonised, but also their history and culture, according to their own wishes, is our unity here,” Erdoğan said.

“Do we have black and white here? No. But there is in Europe. France has thrown the Roma out of their country, but I have mingled with them.”

That lack of racism, Erdoğan said, was the beauty of Islam.