Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan continues to use the Christchurch attack as a part of his campaign for the elections around the corner, despite his praise of New Zealand PM on handling the situation on Friday, displaying the footage of the shooting in yet another election rally.
Erdogan doubled down on his anti-Western rhetoric after the attack perpetrated at two mosques that claimed 50 lives in Christchurch, New Zealand by Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist who targeted Turkish President in his 75-page manifesto released before the shooting.
Erdogan recurrently defied the international consensus among world media platforms regarding not showing the video to deny the attacker the propaganda he set sail for, displaying the graphic footage on numerous occasions in his election campaign.
His tone comes in stark contrast with the stance of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who is praised by the Turkish President also on Friday, for her “empathy on display.”
Ardern attended a Friday prayer with thousands, marking the reopening of the attacked Al-Noor mosque, one week after the shooting.
Wearing a black veil as a sign of mourning, Ardern quoted Prophet Mohammad, revering him in the way Muslims pay their respects while uttering his name, “The Prophet Mohammad, sallā Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam [May God honor him and grant him peace] said, ‘The believers, in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy, are just like one body. When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain.’ New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”
Erdogan on Friday met with New Zealand’s Foreign Minister William Peters, smoothing the tensions that rose after the diplomatic spat over his rhetoric.
“I certainly intend to put New Zealand’s record as being an innocent party to an act of a foreigner in our country,” said FM Peters attending a meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). When asked about if he brought up Erdogan’s display of the graphic footage, he said, “I felt that I did not have to ask, because they are not doing that anymore.”
Erdogan thanked the government of New Zealand and Prime Minister Ardern for her stance. “The reaction and the empathy on display should be an example to all world leaders,” he said, praising Ardern’s actions who condemned the shooting by labeling it an “act of terrorism.”
However, hours after making these statements, Erdogan displayed the graphic footage again during a rally in the Central Anatolian city of Konya.
Alluding to the inscriptions written on the weapon of the Tarrant, Erdogan said that Turkish people should not forget the Ottoman Empire’s siege of Vienna in 1683, lamenting, “If we passed through Vienna, Europe would be ours, we were pushed back and now they want us out of Thrace. ”
During the past week, Erdogan referred to the soldiers from Australia and New Zealand soldiers who along with the British troops, fought against the Ottoman Empire in Dardanelles campaign as part of WW1.
“Any Australians and New Zealanders traveling to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in coffins ‘like their grandfathers’ were in the Gallipoli campaign,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan’s coffin remarks prompted a backlash from the Australian government, with PM Morrison summoning Turkish Ambassador over the Turkish President’s statement.
“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern and an embracing nation, and I think these [Erdogan’s] comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison stated.
Australian PM also said that his government would evaluate “all options” in reviewing relations with Turkey.
Korhan Karakoc, Turkey’s ambassador to Australia, claimed that Erdogan’s remarks were made, “in the heat of the moment… in an electoral context.”
The “electoral context” Karakoc referred to, included Erdogan’s remarks that aligned the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu with the far-right Australian senator Fraser Anning who blamed the Muslims for the attack, for emphasizing Muslims’ duty to fight with radical Islamist terrorism.
Turkish President’s spokesman, Fahrettin Altun alleged that Erdogan’s words were “taken out of context.”