Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday hit back at Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders over an insulting cartoon he shared.
"Fascism is not in our book, it's in your book. Social justice is in our book," Erdogan said at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the eastern Malatya province, calling Wilders a "fascist."
"The forces that make the world uninhabitable have put us on the target board because we disrupt their games and reveal their true faces," Erdogan said, adding: "We will carry on."
His remarks came after Wilders, known for his anti-Islamic stance, shared on Twitter an insulting cartoon of the Turkish president which was denounced by several Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“When truth spoken to their faces Europe's loser racists showed up again. Trying to exploit Islamophobia and xenophobia. Time has come to stop Europe’s spoiled politicians with fascist mindset,” Cavusoglu said on Twitter.
"Immoral, antihuman and fascist [...]," said AK Party spokesman Omer Celik on Twitter in response to the post, along with the hashtag #TerroristGeertWilders.
Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's communications director, also took to Twitter in criticism of Islamophobia.
"Europe is an increasingly dangerous place for Muslims. The dog whistle politics of offensive caricatures, accusations of separatism against Muslims, and mosque raids isn't about freedom of expression," Altun warned.
“Each day, we experience a new anti-Islam or anti-Turkey delusions coming from different corners of Europe,” Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter.
Using the hashtag #TerroristGeertWilders, Oktay added that Wilders used a “disrespectful image” which exceeds the limit.
“It is a shame that these people, who are fed with institutionalized anti-Islamism and build their entire policy on "Hostility to Erdogan," are in decision-making mechanisms in Europe,” he said, adding that European values should not be a party to this “shame”.
'Taking sides with Azerbaijan'
“We were blamed for taking sides with our Azerbaijani brothers defending their lands in the Caucasus,” Erdogan said, adding that some Americans called Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev telling him that they could impose sanctions on Turkey.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh.
Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly, as well as international organizations, demand the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territory.
Since recent clashes erupted on Sept. 27, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating two humanitarian cease-fires announced earlier this month.
World powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have called for a new and lasting cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia's occupying forces.
Regarding the S-400 missile systems, Erdogan recalled that it was Turkey that stepped in to purchase US’s F-35 fighter jets.
“You [the US] threatened us. You said 'Send the S-400s back to Russia'. We are not a tribal state. We are Turkey,” he stressed.
Since 2017, Turkey and the US have been at odds over Turkey's decision to buy the S-400, a Russian-made missile defense system, with the US threatening to break its contract to sell Turkey F-35 fighter jets over the dispute.
* Writing by Handan Kazanci and Gozde Bayar
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