Turkey slams Washington's remark on religious freedom

State Department's statement ahead of Pompeo's visit 'irrelevant', says Foreign Ministry

Merve Aydogan   | 11.11.2020
Turkey slams Washington's remark on religious freedom



Turkey on Wednesday lashed out at the US State Department for raising concerns "over religious issues" ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Istanbul.

A Tuesday statement by the State Department said: "Following Paris, Secretary Pompeo will travel to Istanbul, Turkey to meet with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world."

Noting Turkey's progress in the field of religious freedoms over the past 20 years, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy in a statement said "the language employed in the press statement regarding the State Secretary’s visit is completely irrelevant."

"It would be more suitable for the US to first look in the mirror and show the requisite sensitivity towards human rights violations in the country such as racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes," Aksoy added.

In the statement, Aksoy also underlined that Turkey sees "no objection in having foreign official guests meet with representatives of religious communities in the countries they visit" and recalled the country's historical record for its diversity and of hosting different religions for centuries.

"Whereas religious minorities throughout the world, and especially Muslims, have been forced to perform their worship under unfavorable conditions and constant threats, non-Muslim Turkish citizens have been able to freely perform their religious duties. The freedom of worship of Turkish citizens from different faiths is being protected," he added.

Aksoy suggested the US should "focus instead primarily on increasing the cooperation between our countries regarding regional and global matters".

Pompeo will embark on a seven-nation tour to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia from Nov. 13-23.

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