Muslim world battling Islamophobia ‘virus’ alongside COVID-19, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday condemned what he called the rising Islamophobia in Western countries, saying Muslim countries were battling the “virus” of prejudice against Islam alongside the deadly coronavirus.

The Turkish president referred specifically to France, accusing the European nation of “contempt” towards the Prophet Muhammad “under the guise of freedom of thought,” state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive amid an ongoing row with France over French President Emmanuel Macron’s crackdown on radical Islam,which he maintains has become a global problem, and efforts to create an Islamic model native to France devoid of what he calls foreign influence. The Turkish president has blasted his French counterpart over his stance, while calling on Muslim countries to boycott all French products.

“Cultural racism, discrimination, and intolerance have reached levels that cannot be concealed in countries that for many years have been hailed as cradles of democracy,” Erdoğan said in a video message to the 23rd annual convention of the Muslim American Society.

Noting that the marginalization of Muslims due to their beliefs, language, names, or dress has become ordinary in many countries, Erdoğan said Islamophobia and xenophobia had become a trend guiding state policy in some Western countries.  

This year, the Muslims world has been confronted by only the deadly coronavirus, but the “virus that is Islamophobia,” Erdoğan said.