In Christchurch Aftermath, Efforts On In Turkey To Reinforce Communal Hatred As President Erdogan Seeks Re-Election

Swarajya StaffWednesday, March 20, 2019 10:19 am IST
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

There’s a full-blown rift brewing between leaders who represent largely Christian populations and those that represent Islamic interests post the recent attacks on mosque-goers in Christchurch, New Zealand. While the global media as well as the New Zealand government have condemned the attack in unequivocal terms, political mileage is being sought to be derived in certain parts of the Islamic world over the loss of lives in the attack, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is running for re-election, has been using the attack to whip up civilisational tensions, to retain political relevance.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken objection to such inflammatory speeches by Erdogan, as a result of which national security agencies are reviewing whether it is safe for Australians to travel to Gallipoli in southern Turkey to participate in the Anzac Day services.

What Is Anzac Day

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations". Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in World War I (1914–1918).

In response to the Christchurch attack, a charged-up Erdogan had said, "You heinously killed 50 of our siblings. You will pay for this," at a poll rally in which he also aired segments of a live-stream shared to Facebook by the Christchurch gunman.

Erdogan also urged New Zealand to hang the Christchurch shooter, and warned that any anti-Muslim attacks in Turkey would result in the offenders going home "in caskets".

Upping the ante, the Turkish President told Australians and New Zealanders, "Your grandparents came here ... and they returned in caskets," referring to the thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died during the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Such heightening of political tensions has not gone down well with the leaders down under, who have asked Erdogan to expunge such comments, some of which were made in the Turkish Parliament.

Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called Erdogan's remarks "foolish and offensive".

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