Erdogan under fire for using Christchurch massacre video at rally
Turkey’s strongman president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been criticised by New Zealand for using the video live-streamed by the Christchurch mosque gunman while campaigning ahead of Turkish regional elections.
Erdogan said the attack was part of an assault on Turkey and Islam itself.
He is facing an uphill battle in the elections at the end of March due to Turkey’s economic crisis, which includes high inflation and a construction meltdown.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters condemned the politicisation of the massacre, saying Erdogan “imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair”.
Peters said he would travel to Turkey this week to attend a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.
Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the attack that left 50 worshippers dead at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday.
The alleged attacker, Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist from Australia, live-streamed video of the attack and uploaded a 72-page manifesto on social media claiming it was a strike against Islamic “invaders”.
The manifesto mentions Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, now a museum, that was once a Byzantine church before becoming a mosque after the Ottoman conquest.
Facebook removed the video’s images from hundreds of thousands of its pages, the tech giant said.
But Erdogan projected the video and repeatedly referenced the attack, which he said was a sign of rising Islamophobia that Christian nations ignored.
Erdogan claimed part of the Christchurch suspect’s manifesto was to keep Turks out of Europe and said the attack was part of a global campaign against Islam.
However, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay had earlier called for all sides to stop using inflammatory language after the Christchurch attacks.
“This is not an isolated event, it is something more organised,” he told an event in Canakkale in western Turkey.
“They are testing us with the message they are sending us from New Zealand, 16,500 km from here.”
Peters said he had complained to the Ankara authorities. He told the media: “We made it very clear that we oppose terrorism in whatever shape and form it might be and that we are for a free and open society.
“We had a long dialogue on the need for any other country, or Turkey for that matter, to ensure that our country, New Zealand, was not misrepresented. We did not start or bring about this disaster and they clearly understood that,” he added.
Turkey’s strongman president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Picture credit: Wikimedia