"It is my personal duty to encourage open discussions on all questions related to religion in this country," Erdogan said in an address at a meeting organized by the Presidency of Religious Affairs. "While politicians defending the natural rights of religious people were labeled as backwards or even executed, the efforts of pseudo scholars to poison Turkish society were supported for decades and even encouraged."
"So-called scholars who conformed with official ideology were appreciated and even those treasonous deceivers under the name of clergy enjoyed domestic and international support," the president added.
Erdogan said Western-style modernization led to Christianity being sidelined and replaced by money, technology, fashion and science.
The Muslim world, including Turkey, started to imitate the West in its new attitude towards religion, the president added.
"For around 200 years, the discussion of religious issues was suppressed, and even Islam and Muslims were exposed to systematic scorning and despise," Erdogan said. "Those who hold enmity towards Islam and its visibility in public space are not aware that they invented another religion with their own hands. That is why we insist on normalization, self-confidence and courage."
"We are going beyond the banalities taught to us for 200 years and are finally asking the right questions. While the West wants us to keep quiet, we continue to defend Palestine, democracy in Egypt, justice in Syria and to criticize the structure of the UN," Erdogan said, reiterating criticism of the UN Security Council for allowing only five major powers to effectively make all decisions.
"We continue to say that the world is bigger than five, but abandoning such a reign does not suit them," he said.
Erdogan also condemned a recent arrest warrant issued by Interpol against Egyptian-born religious scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 88, who strongly criticized the July 2013 military coup in Egypt.
"We know that they continue their efforts to intimidate us either through international media or through their collaborators on the inside," Erdogan said. "They will use all means, including writers and artists they isolated from their own cultures and all those treasonous networks of Muslim-looking missionaries they fed on for long."
Erdogan said Turkey can spoil these games if it protects its Islamic heritage well, based on its Ottoman dynasty, which reigned for more than 700 years.
"If we appropriate our heritage well and break away from all those roles the West cast on us in the global system, we can lead a role in sustaining solidarity and justice in the Muslim world and in stopping bloodshed in the Middle East and Africa," he added.
Erdogan criticized the lack of economic cooperation between the resource-rich Muslim countries and other members of the Muslim world who top the list of the least-developed countries. He said half of the 48 least-developed countries listed by the UN are Muslim countries.
Erdogan also slammed criticism of teaching Ottoman Turkish in schools, an issue discussed at a meeting organized by Turkey's National Education Ministry last week.
"Objections to learning our ancestors' language are very dangerous," he said. "Ottoman Turkish will be taught in schools so youth can learn their history, like it or not."