Turkey has called an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the New Zealand mosque attacks and “increasing violence based on Islamophobia”.
The country’s foreign ministry said in a statement published on Thursday that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu would chair the meeting held in Istanbul on Friday.
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“Turkey, as the OIC Summit Chair, has called upon holding an emergency meeting for discussing the increasing violence based on Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia, in particular the terrorist attack that targeted two mosques in New Zealand on 15 March 2019,” the statement said.
It also said that apart from the OIC members, the representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were also invited to the meeting.
On Wednesday, the Labour party in the United Kingdom has officially adopted the definition of Islamophobia, saying it was important to to “build a common understanding of its causes and consequences, and express solidarity with Muslim communities”.
The definition states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
Turkey’s announcement came a week after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last Wednesday that her foreign minister would travel to Turkey to “confront” comments made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 50 people.
Erdogan, while campaigning for March 31 local elections, said on Tuesday that Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.
He presented the attack as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam and warned anti-Muslim Australians would be “sent back in coffins” like their grandfathers at Gallipoli – a blood-drenched World War I battle.
More than 8,000 Australians died fighting Turkish forces at Gallipoli, which has a prominent place in Australia’s collective memory.
Erdogan’s comments included video footage of the shootings, which the alleged gunman had broadcast on Facebook.
The Australian gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist from Australia, live-streamed much of the attack and spread a manifesto on social media claiming it was an attack against Muslim “invaders”.
The manifesto referenced Turkey and the minarets of Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia, now a museum, which was once a church before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday summoned the Turkish ambassador over Erdogan’s speech but dismissed the “excuses” offered.
“Remarks have been made by Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Morrison said.
In fiery remarks, Morrison accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the father of the modern Turkish state and a revered figure in the country- to forge peace between the two countries.
Three Turkish nationals were wounded in the attacks that killed 50 worshippers at two mosques in the southern New Zealand city on Friday.