World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned of a "clash of civilisations" following the wake of the militant attacks in Paris and he also appeared to criticise France for allowing the wife of one of the gunmen to travel via Turkey to Syria.
Erdogan has already accused the West of hypocrisy after the attacks last week in which the gunmen killed 17, including 12 at the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The three gunmen were also killed.
Speaking at a businessmen's meeting in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said Charlie Hebdo was known for its provocative publications.
"We are following with great concern the attacks against Islam hidden behind the attack on the satirical magazine in France," said Erdogan, who has become an increasingly vocal critic of what he sees as mounting Islamaphobia in the West.
"Despite all our efforts to prevent it, the clash of civilisations thesis is being brought to life."
Charlie Hebdo has published numerous cartoons mocking religious figures including Jesus, Pope Frances and the Prophet Mohammad.
Its first edition since the attacks depicted the Prophet, provoking renewed outrage amongst some Muslims.
Erdogan said the decision to print millions of copies of the magazine had nothing to do with freedom of expression and was instead "terrorising the freedom of others".
Erdogan said: “All western, especially European, countries are facing a major test of respect for human rights and diversity. As recent incidents show, the racism has increased steadily and dangerously across the western countries. We are following with concern the latest wave of hatred against our Prophet Muhammad that hides behind the French attack.”
A Turkish newspaper which reproduced part of the magazine is currently being investigated by prosecutors.
Without giving names, Erdogan also appeared to take aim at the French authorities for allowing Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of one of the gunmen, to travel to Turkey in the days before the attacks. She is now thought to be in Syria.
"They are talking about people who go through Turkey, but they should first learn how to check passports when these people are leaving their own country," Erdogan said.
Turkey has tightened its border security after facing criticism for allowing hundreds of European would-be militants transit into neighbouring Syria to join up with radical groups, including ISIL.
A French official said this week that intelligence co-operation between Paris and Ankara was strong and emphasised that Turkey was not at fault for not picking up Boumeddiene.
"This is not and should not become an issue, because there's lots still to do, there's other people that we need to track. We're not blaming Turkey at all," the official told Reuters.
The Turkish president also called the Israeli government "arrogant" for denouncing the recent Paris attacks after what the Israeli army did inGaza last summer that left more than 2,600 Palestinians dead.
“It is sheer arrogance for those who have on their hands the blood of children playing on the beach to condemn terrorism," he said during the meeting with young entrepreneurs at the Presidential Palace in Ankara.
At least four children were killed in Gaza in July 2014, when Israeli forces shelled the beach where they were playing. In total, over 500 children were killed during the operation.
The president said he cursed the Israeli government, but not the Israeli people for being responsible of the deadly operation in Gaza.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says more than 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, were killed during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge on July 7. The Israeli offensive ended in August 2014.
“It was meaningful that some countries have been defending the Israeli government,” he said. “Those who came to Paris and other countries’ leaders who attended the solidarity rally in Paris, why have they remained silent on the (Israeli) attacks against Palestinian people?” he asked.
About Israeli premier’s attendance at the unity march in France on Sunday, Erdogan said, “this is hypocrisy.”
“Just two months ago, you bombed and destroyed in Gaza and killed around 2,600 people,” the president said.
Erdogan also mentioned his new plan to change the name of the new Presidential Palace to “Presidential Complex,” which will include a mosque, convention center, multi-purpose hall and Turkey’s biggest library.
Erdogan said he hoped that those who found the term “palace” controversial would be at ease with the word “complex.”
The palace had been a source of controversy in Turkey as some considered it to be an extravagant project. Erdogan and the Turkish government defended it by saying it is representative of the Turkish history's grandeur and it would remain a remarkable piece of architecture for next generations.
The library currently has approximately two million volumes, but a new one will have at least four million volumes, both in digital and hard copy. “We want to build a presidential library,” the president said.
Erdogan said the new Turkish library would be the biggest that would initially remain open until midnight and later would be open 24 hours for all students.
“I think we will finish this project within two years and then the Presidential Complex will be inaugurated with a mega opening ceremony.”
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