Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that slander against sanctities or sacred values of others is tantamount to an act of terrorism, affirming that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is a red line for all Muslims.
Referring to the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in the wake of the publication of defamatory cartoon against the prophet, he said the phenomenon of Islamophobia poses a serious threat and a source of instability for all Muslims and "the western countries have to realize this well." In an address to the 10th session of the conference of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC) which opened here today, President Erdogan called on all Muslim countries to unite against terrorism in all its manifestations whatever the justifications might be.
The Paris attacks on January 7 came as no surprise as they coincided with mounting violence everywhere, he said, noting that there are several attacks in Nigeria, Libya and in Iraq while the west does not react against "these terrorist deeds" on similar footing.
The man who killed more than 2,500 people, including women and children, in Gaza Strip has been at the forefront of the Paris rally against terrorism, Erdogan said, apparently referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Turkish leader blasted the west for adopting double standards in addressing terrorism, saying: "When Israel launched the terrorist offensive on Gaza last year, neither the western countries nor the United Nations condemned Israel while they condemned the Paris attacks." When Israel deported the celebrated cartoonist Naji Al-Ali from the occupied Palestinian territories and the man was assassinated in exile in Britain, nobody in the west spoke against Israel or the freedom of expression, Erdogan reminded.
"The freedom of expression can by no means justify slandering the sacred values of others. The cartoonists offending Prophet Mohammad should know that they are playing with matches," he cautioned. The Turkish leader called on the Muslim countries to put their sectarian and ideological differences aside, and unite in order to overcome the current crises and mounting challenges.
He noted that the current PUIC conference provides a great opportunity to discuss and solve the problems of the Islamic world through unity and solidarity.
"The Islamic world faces a wicked game of sectarian differences which pit Muslims against each other. Muslims are killed by Muslims; both the killed and the killer are Muslims," he regretted, stressing the need "to stand together to end this bloodshed." He cited as an example of sectarian strife the conflict in Syria which resulted in the killing of more than 350,000 people - mainly civilians, and displaced seven million others at a time when the killer claims to belong to Muslim identity. He was apparently referring to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. On the terrorist groups, he said "they can never be representatives of Muslims or the Islamic world.
To incite the western countries against Muslims is really dangerous, Erdogan said, noting that the word Islam is now tendentiously used in the west in relation to terrorism, "which constitutes the most serious insult to Islam and Muslim." Meanwhile, Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek urged the Islamic countries to cooperate against terrorism.
In his inaugural speech to the conference after taking over the PUIC presidency in lie of Iranian Majlis Al-Shura (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani, Cicek said: "The Islamophobic comments and incidents which implicate the whole Islamic world after the Paris attack cannot be acceptable." "The freedom of speech cannot be evaluated as a right to insult the values of a holy faith," he said while condemning the Paris attack as "a crime against humanity." "The international community must stand together against Islamophobia which would create clashes among religions, civilizations and sects," he stressed.
Cicek renewed condemnation of the recent Israeli aggressions on the Islamic sanctities including the last November Jewish incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
Kuwait's National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim who doubles as President of the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union (AIPU), arrived here on Monday leading a parliamentary delegation to the two-day PUIC; they held meetings with the delegations of several OIC member states.