Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed France’s nationwide riots on “institutional racism” and the country’s colonial past.
The French government has been battling violence and looting in Paris and across the country since 17-year-old Nahel M – a French citizen of Algerian background – was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop last week.
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Erdogan has portrayed himself as a defender of the world’s Muslims since leading his Islamic-rooted party to power in Turkey two decades ago.
He blamed the French unrest Monday on “Islamophobia” that he linked to France’s colonial past.
“In countries known for their colonial past, cultural racism has turned into institutional racism,” he said on television after chairing a weekly cabinet meeting.
“At the root of the events that started in France is the social architecture built by this mentality. Most of the immigrants who are condemned to live in ghettos, who are systematically oppressed, are Muslims.”
Erdogan also criticised the widespread looting that accompanied the unrest. Protesters, mostly minors, have torched cars, damaged infrastructure, and clashed with police in an outpouring of rage.
Six days of riots have caused some 20 million euros ($21.8m) in damage to public transport in the Paris region.
“The streets cannot be used to seek justice. However, it is clear the authorities should also learn from the social explosion,” Erdogan said.