World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has praised the world’s united stance against the Paris terror attacks and called for a similar stance against growing racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe.
His comments came during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, a day after an estimated two million people and scores of world leaders rallied in the French capital to protest against the attacks.
“It is a very important responsibility for us, the Europeans, to protect our culture by demonstrating a common stance against growing number of Islamophobic acts and attacks to the mosques around Europe, just as we have taken a united stance against the recent terror attacks,” Davutoglu said.
The Turkish and German prime ministers spoke after a meeting at the German Prime Ministry, a day after the two leaders attended the “Unity March” in Paris, paying tribute to 17 victims of the attacks in the French capital on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.
The Turkish PM strongly condemned the terror attacks but underlined they should not be associated with Islam.
He stressed: "Terror organizations should be referred to by their names. If it is committed by Al Qaida, we should refer to Al Qaida."
"Terror and Islam should not be referred together. Similarly, we should refer it with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or Buddhism - otherwise we should fall into the trap of terrorists."
Last week's attacks in France and atrocities committed by the ISIL in the Middle East have triggered suspicion and hostility towards Muslims and led right-wing populist parties to seek benefit from a growing fear of Islam.
In Germany, the growing support for Islamophobic movements like PEGIDA raised worries among politicians and immigrants.
The German Chancellor praised the peaceful co-existence of Muslims and non-Muslims in Germany.
She announced she would join a protest vigil Tuesday evening in Berlin organized by Turkish and Muslim organizations in order to condemn terror in France, but also highlight peaceful co-existence in Germany.
“Our former President Christian Wulff said that Islam is part of Germany. I share this view,” Merkel said in one of the strongest public remarks she has made, acknowledging cultural plurality in Germany.
“I am the Prime Minister of all people living in Germany regardless of their origin or background,” she stressed.
Language tests imposed
Germany has approximately four million Muslims; around three million of them of Turkish origin.
Davutoglu highlighted that Turkish community constitute an important bridge of friendship between the two countries and expressed support for efforts towards integration.
He stressed the importance of multi-cultural plurality in Germany.
“For the Turkish community to preserve its culture, language and traditions is the natural outcome of multicultural life in Germany,” he stressed.
In the past, Turkish and German governments had been at odds over integration.
Germany’s conservative governments had long criticized multi-culturalism and insisted that ethnic-Turkish children should first learn German.
Berlin also imposed German language tests for spouses from Turkey before granting them visas to live there with their husbands or wives.
Borders open for refugees, closed to terrorists
Davutoglu also said that Turkey opens its borders for humanitarian reasons only, to let in Syrian refugees, not terrorists.
French media reported that Hayat Boumeddiene, dubbed “France’s most wanted woman”, is the partner of Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday. Media reports also said that Boumeddiene is now in Syria and went there before the attack.
"Although we did not receive any pre-warnings, Turkish intelligence detected her and immediately informed French authorities," Davutoglu said. "Turkish and French intelligence services are now coordinating."
Earlier on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Boumeddiene arrived in Turkey from Madrid on Jan. 2, stayed at a hotel in Istanbul and went to Syria on Jan. 8.
"There was no specific entry ban for Hayat Boumeddiene as French officials did not notify us about her," Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala told reporters in Ankara on Monday.
"We cannot know where she was before Madrid," Davutoglu added. "Now, can you blame Spain for this? Is it possible to blame Turkey? Is Turkey to blame for having a border with Syria?"
The Turkish premier noted that he cannot accept any unfair accusations against Turkey since Turkish officials have always taken the most solid stance against terrorist activities and are involved in anti-terror efforts in many parts of the world.
Davutoglu also said that his country is already working hard to protect its 911-km border with Syria and block the entry of suspects and foreign fighters, but has to keep the crossings open for innocent children and women fleeing the relentless civil war and atrocities in Syria.
"If they ever blame Turkey, we will close the borders tomorrow, but the sin of the killing of every single child by the Syrian regime's bombardment will be upon those who wanted us to do so," he said. "The international community has to resolve this."
"Regarding foreign fighters, we have called upon European and world nations so many times to implement intelligence cooperation," he said. "Turkey receives around 35 million tourists. We cannot tell whether someone is a terrorist or not and categorize them only by looking at their names."
The Turkish PM also said that Turkey needs to receive intelligence from other countries that "these people are suspects" in order to take necessary measures.
"We have a given list of 7,000 names, including some German citizens, and we have banned their entry," Davutoglu said. "We have also deported another 1,500 to 2,000 people, including German and French citizens, upon their entry. We will always take the necessary actions based on intelligence."
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