Erdogan says US cannot be 'civilized country'

Turkish president criticizes Donald Trump's policy regarding Muslims

Erdogan says US cannot be 'civilized country' ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 21 : President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the Civilizations Forum at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul, Turkey on October 21, 2017. ( TURKISH PRESIDENCY / YASIN BULBUL / HANDOUT - Anadolu Agency )

By Burcu Arik & Fatma Bulbul


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday the U.S. could not be called a civilized country.

"What do they call America? The cradle of democracy. Such a thing cannot be a democracy and its name cannot be democracy," he said at the Civilizations Forum at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul.

"If America issues arrest warrants for my 13 bodyguards in a country where I went upon invitation, I'm sorry, but I will not say that country is civilized," Erdogan said at the Civilizations Forum at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul.

On June 15, the U.S. issued arrest warrants for 16 people including Erdogan's bodyguards allegedly linked with a brawl outside the Turkish embassy in Washington during the Turkish president's visit in May.

The president said he and his security team faced threats during his visit. "They [security guards] took measures for us. And even two of them [guards] were not even there. Can there be such justice?" he added.

Erdogan criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's policy regarding Muslims saying Turkey never closed its doors to people who thought differently.

"Muslims in America are facing expulsion so it means there is a problem in the country," he said, adding he had doubts on Trump's ability to "judge" a civilization.

Trump uses 'terrorist' only for Muslims

The Trump administration laid out late last month new restrictions to replace Trump's previous travel ban, which was set to expire, adding two non-Muslim-majority countries to the list of designated nations while dropping Sudan.

The countries that face travel restrictions under Trump's new order are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen.

This latest attempt to curtail immigration to the U.S. was dealt a legal setback after a Hawaii judge ruled Tuesday that it suffers from the same legal deficiencies as his previous directives.

Erdogan also said the U.S. president used the term "terrorist" solely for Muslims.

"Here you are, the Buddhists in Myanmar killed Muslims of Rohingya. Can they call the Buddhists in the same way? No. Why? Because they do yoga. Could it be such a nonsense? Do they say the same thing for Christians or Jewish terrorists? No," he said.

Rohingya in Myanmar have been described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people. Since Aug. 25, around 589,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The president also said that Turkey was the country that had done the most to fight Daesh.

"And while we fight, we say that Daesh has nothing to do with Islam.We are saying that Daesh is not related to Islam in interviews [...] at every international meeting."

"But you cannot make them understand and unfortunately they make Muslims kill Muslims," Erdogan said. "They also supply free weapons. We want weapons with our money to defend [ourselves], they do not give us weapons. We are in such a strange world."

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