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Turkey urges action against Islamophobic attacks

Attacks on Muslims are attacks on all of us, New Zealand's foreign minister tells OIC meeting in Istanbul

Nilay Kar Onum   | 22.03.2019
Turkey urges action against Islamophobic attacks


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will not stand idle in the face of Islamophobic attacks, said Turkey’s foreign minister on Friday. 

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the OIC in Istanbul, convened at Turkey's request, Mevlut Cavusoglu vowed to take a stand “against all this hate speech, violence, and terrorism with both our speech and practical steps.”

No religion or belief can be defined by violence and terror, Cavusoglu said, adding that peace is "at the heart of Islam." 

Cavusoglu praised the “exemplary” stance of New Zealand authorities after the terrorist attacks. 

“We hope that this attitude of the New Zealand government and parliament, which have taken a principled stance [on the attacks], will be taken as an example by the countries and politicians where acts of Islamophobia and xenophobia are frequently seen.”

“Such attacks should be closely monitored by an OIC mechanism … and should be decidedly brought to the agenda in the presence of the Western world and their public.” 

“We call upon the whole world as a country that has built its foreign policy on human values and as president of the OIC summit,” said. “Let's take a comprehensive look at hostility towards Islam, intolerance, racism and terrorism, and fight against them together.”

Cavusoglu said Turkey appreciated the attitude of New Zealand's people and government in the aftermath of the terrorist attack and saying: "We hope that this attitude will set an example for the countries of the world and especially for the politicians in the countries where racism is increasing."

“We will support New Zealand's struggle against terrorism, extremism and anti-Islamism.”

Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, the OIC’s secretary general, said that in the wake of last week’s attacks, March 15 should become a day of international solidarity against Islamophobia.

Othaimeen said: “I would like to thank the government of New Zealand for its political, legal and humanitarian attitude after this terrorist attack. All of our member countries agree on this issue.”

He underscored the “hidden danger” of the live broadcast of the massacre which requires an immediate action against it.

"We must act in common against hate speech," he said, and added: "We must be wary of the provocative language in the digital world. We must block negative messages that will mobilize large audiences."

Othaimeen said the attacks against women wearing headscarves in Europe "are fed by similar sources", referring to the hate speech in the digital world.

'No religion of terrorism'

For his part, OIC Secretary General Yousef Al-Othaimeen urged action to stem anti-Muslim hate speech, saying: “We need to tell this definitely to all leaders: There is no language, religion or race of terror.”

“If we do not play a role in stemming hate speech against Muslims, unfortunately it will continue,” Al-Othaimeen stressed. 

The OIC needs to take its decisions from this emergency meeting and quickly issue declarations, he urged.

“We must ensure that people freely fulfill the obligations of their religion, no matter what faith they follow, and we need to work for this,” said the OIC head. 

Calling last week’s deadly attacks in New Zealand a “turning point” for Muslims, Al-Othaimeen said that they would not be deterred from taking steps to curb violence. 

Also speaking at the event, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters began by saying, “As-Salaam-Alaikum," a religious greeting among Muslims. 

Peters said that his country places great importance on freedom of religious belief, calling attacks on Muslims “attacks on all of us.”

The biggest police investigation in New Zealand’s history was launched in the wake of the attacks, Peters said, and the terrorist responsible will spend the rest of his life alone in a cell. 

A week ago today, at least 50 Muslims were killed and as many injured when Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, 28, entered the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch and shot worshippers in cold blood, including four children younger than 18. 

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