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Turkish consul stops US diplomat from giving speech at Muslim celebration in Romania

A senior US diplomat was unable to deliver a speech on “shared values of tolerance and peace” at a Muslim celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammed in the Romanian city of Constanta after she was ordered off the stage by Turkey’s consul, Romanian news outlets reported on Tuesday.

The incident took place when Abigail Rupp, the US Deputy Chief of Mission in Bucharest, got on stage to make a speech at the religious event organized by the Muslim Cult in Romania.

Then, Sulhi Turan, the Turkish consul in Constanta, approached the US diplomat and asked the US diplomat to get off the stage, arguing that her speech was not included in the event program.

Rupp thanked the audience in Romanian for their hospitality and left the stage to applause without delivering her speech.

Following the event, Mufti Murat Yusuf, the religious leader of the Muslim community and the organizer of the event, disapproved of the Turkish consul’s behavior, saying that the US official was their guest to the event.

“We are sorry for the attitude of the representatives of the Turkish state. The event was organized in Romania, and we have good relations with the USA,” the Mufti was quoted by www.info-sud-est.ro as saying.

Later, Rupp’s undelivered speech was revealed by the US embassy on its website, and Romania Insider, a news portal, quoted an Embassy statement that called the incident “regrettable.”

“It is unfortunate that the representatives of the Turkish Government have publicly objected to the role of a high representative of the USA and prevented her from speaking at an event celebrating the values of religious freedom and diversity we share in Romania,” an official from the US Embassy was quoted by the news portal as saying.

In her undelivered speech (https://ro.usembassy.gov/dcm-abigail-rupp-at-the-muslim-community-celebration-of-the-birth-of-the-prophet-muhammed/), Rupp emphasized the shared values of “hope, trust, tolerance, and peace” for which the celebration event was a reminder.

“It is in this spirit that the US stands by the Muslim Tatar and Turkish communities of Romania as a partner and a friend. Above all, we want to deepen our mutual trust, understanding, and collaboration,” Rupp’s remarks read.

The incident came amid strained relations between the US and Turkey over the latter’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems and a military incursion into Syria against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Last week in Washington, US President Donald Trump called on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pull out of the S-400 deal but the latter refused.

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