President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's angry reaction to a New York Times story alleging that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terror group is recruiting in the Turkish capital Ankara was covered by almost all domestic papers on Thursday.
Erdogan slammed the New York Times for running the story, describing it as "shamelessness, sordidness, vileness" during a speech in Ankara on Wednesday.
The story – headlined 'ISIS Draws a Steady Stream of Recruits From Turkey' – alleges that the country is one of the biggest sources of recruits for the extremist organization.
"An international newspaper used a photo of me and Mr. Prime Minister [Ahmet Davutoglu] leaving the Haci Bayram Mosque and wrote that a terrorist group was recruiting militants from the neighborhood surrounding that mosque. In mildest terms, this is shamelessness, sordidness, vileness," Erdogan said.
"It is tactless to portray Turkey as a country supporting terrorism," Erdogan added.
The New York Times has admitted it was a mistake to use a photograph showing the Turkish president and prime minister leaving a mosque in Ankara to accompany the story.
HABERTURK quotes presidency sources claiming that mounting reports over ISIL recruitment and alleged support from Turkey is a strategy to corner the country.
HABERTURK went on to claim that the reports were designed to force Turkey, which has 49 citizens being held hostage by ISIL, to make the strategic military base of Incirlik available to a U.S.-led coalition determined to fight the Sunni rebel group.
Referring to the hostages, the STAR daily quotes Erdogan as saying: "Their fate is more important to us than everything."
In other news, SABAH covered Erdogan's remarks on the ‘solution process’ aimed at ending a 30-year conflict between the outlawed, Kurdistan Workers’ Party – also known as the PKK – and the Turkish state following a ceasefire last year.
Erdogan reiterated Turkey's commitment to the process saying “we started it and we will finish it,” according to TURKIYE.
"Turkey has got no other option but to solve this issue," Erdogan said. The president was speaking amid a spate of arson attacks on schools in southeastern Turkey widely linked to tensions over Kurdish-language education.
TURKIYE covered a survey regarding the peace efforts; results suggest that most Kurds support the process, while overall backing from all respondents stood at nearly 60 percent.
The survey by Bogazici University said 83 percent of people, who defined themselves as Kurdish, announced their support.
In foreign news, a referendum in Scotland over its possible independence from the United Kingdom was another topic featured in Turkish dailies. More than four million Scottish voters are expected to go to polls today to decide over possible separation from England after more than three centuries.
"Will Braveheart Win?" VATAN asks, referring to the famous movie on Scottish struggles with their English neighbors.
VATAN quotes Stephen Gethins, a former Scottish Government special adviser, saying: "We have never been this much ready for independence."
Meanwhile, in Turkey, HURRIYET ran a story about a European Human Rights Court decision over compulsory religion lessons in Turkish schools. The EHRC has ruled that they should be optional.
"Amendment is compulsory," the paper says in its headline, a reference to a need to enact a change in Turkey’s constitution for the classes to become optinal.
Prime Minister Davutoglu said such religion classes were essential in the fight against radicalism given the situation surrounding Turkey.
Any “misinterpretation of religion” is the cause of such radicalism, he said, in a reference to the rise of extremism in Syria and Iraq.
"I know Marxism, although I am not a Marxist,” said Davutoglu. “Even an atheist should have religious knowledge," added the Turkish leader.
He said the ECHR decision would be evaluated, according to HURRIYET.