Critics say one NATO member nation continues to shed its former image as a moderating force within the Islamic world.
According to WND, Turkish officials are pushing to make criticism of Islam illegal across Europe.
WND’s report was based on a Gatestone Institute paper by D.C.-based Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut.
She reported that at an unveiling last month of the 2017 European Islamophobia Report, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the case for a European Union law against expressions of anti-Muslim views.
“There is no ideology or terminology called ‘Islamism,'” he said, according to Bulut’s report. “There is only one Islam and it means ‘peace.'”
The Turkish official appeared to base his argument on the perceived Islamophobic platforms endorsed by an increasing number of populist political candidates across the EU.
He said these individuals are “engaging in extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric to get a few more votes.”
As a result, Cavusoglu argued that even “centrist politicians” are beginning to employ “similar rhetoric to get back the votes they have lost.”
Addressing what he said was a double standard in the amount of attention paid to religious persecution, he reportedly invoked the Holocaust as a parallel for the treatment he believes Muslims could face if action is not taken to stem the tide of Islamophobia.
“There is no need to relive Auschwitz or wait for Muslims to be burned in gas chambers like Jewish people,” he said.
Bulut expressed skepticism regarding the argument, though, pointing out that Turkey has a documented history of Muslim persecution of other groups.
“Given Turkey’s inhospitable treatment of non-Muslims throughout the ages, it is the height of hypocrisy for its foreign minister to complain about Europe’s attitude toward Muslims, which has been the opposite of Islamophobic,” she wrote.
To make her point, Bulut summarized multiple Turkish campaigns from the 20th century allegedly targeted at discriminating against specific minorities. Her list of examples included reports of antisemitic policies dating back to the Turkish Republic’s formation nearly a century ago.
As the earliest examples, she cited “laws that excluded Jews and other non-Muslim citizens from certain occupations in the 1920s and blocked the Jews’ freedom of movement.”
She also included “the 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in eastern Thrace, and the continued anti-Jewish hate speech in the Turkish media and certain political circles” as additional “forms of persecution and discrimination against Jewish citizens of Turkey.”
According to Bulut, atrocities against Christians of various denominations and nationalities have also been common throughout Turkish history.
Protestants continue to lack the status of a “legal entity” within Turkey, she wrote, citing a 2017 human rights complaint. This has reportedly led to Protestant churches being denied the right to even maintain houses of worship.
“Other problems encountered by Protestants include but are not limited to hate crimes and speech, verbal and physical attacks and workplace discrimination,” she wrote.
By pointing out several policies reportedly designed to marginalize or penalize non-Muslims in the country, Bulut concluded that these efforts have largely had their desired effect.
“Today, only 0.2 percent of Turkey’s population of nearly 80 million is Christian or Jewish,” she wrote.
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