SAYS MUSLIMS CANNOT BE PUSHED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BEING EITHER AMERICAN OR MUSLIMS
WASHINGTON DC — A Turkish-funded religious center in the US will play a crucial role in dealing with intolerance and prejudice against Muslims, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
Erdogan’s comments came at an opening ceremony for the Diyanet Center of America in Marlyand, close to the capital, Washington D.C.
The Turkish leader said that Muslims were a large constituency in the US.
“In the aftermath of the Sep. 11 attacks, prejudice was orchestrated against Muslims in the West, including in the US. It went as far as to consider every Muslim a terrorist,” Erdogan said, adding: “We are watching with concern and surprise how some American presidential candidates are defending this prejudice.”
“Muslims cannot be pushed to choose between being either Muslim or American,” Erdogan said, referring to similar comments by US President Barack Obama.
Erdogan added that while the Muslim community is trying to break the prejudice against them, some groups claiming affiliation with Islam – including Daesh, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda – have been acting as if they are feeding anti-Muslim groups.
Erdogan denounced Daesh activities and said that Turkey is one of the main targets of the terrorist group.
“No other force could harm Turkey more than these groups,” he added.
Erdogan also noted that Turkey has been fighting terrorism for more than three decades, referring to the outlawed PKK terrorist organization.
Noting Turkey’s efforts to help European countries in counter-terrorism efforts, Erdogan reiterated that how Turkish authorities had informed Belgium about suspect terrorists and had handed over one of the Brussels bombers to the country.
“But the Belgian authorities released him, claiming that his file seems to be clean, and then bombs blasted,” Erdogan said.