Erdogan accuses EU of launching anti-Islam ‘crusade’

Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2017
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Erdogan accuses EU of launching anti-Islam ‘crusade’

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s president Thursday accused the EU’s top court of starting a “crusade” against Islam after a ruling allowing European companies to ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic headscarf.
“The European Union’s court, The European Court of Justice, my esteemed brothers, have started a crusade struggle against the (Muslim) crescent,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech,
“Where is freedom of religion?” he said, referring to the court ruling this week.
“Shame on your European Union acquis!” Erdogan said, referring to EU law. “Shame on your values. Shame on your law and justice!”
“Europe is swiftly rolling back to the days before World War II,” he added.
The European Court of Justice said it does not constitute “direct discrimination” if a firm has an internal rule banning the wearing of “any political, philosophical or religious sign.”
Turkey last month said it was lifting a historic ban on female officers wearing the Islamic headscarf in the country’s officially secular armed forces, the last institution where the wearing of the garment was forbidden.
Meanwhile, Erdogan told the Dutch prime minister he had lost Turkey as a friend, despite Mark Rutte’s victory over the far-right in parliamentary elections.
“Hey Rutte! You may have emerged as the number one party in the election but you must know that you have lost Turkey as your friend,” Erdogan said in a televised speech, amid a diplomatic crisis with The Hague due to the blocking of campaign rallies by Turkish ministers.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier said there was “no difference” between the ruling Dutch liberals and the “fascist” anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders.
Cavusoglu also predicted that “religious wars” will start in Europe due to the rise of the far right.
Turkey and Europe have been locked in a diplomatic spat after The Netherlands and Germany blocked Turkish ministers from holding campaign rallies to secure a “yes” vote in next month’s referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers.
Erdogan ridiculed Rutte who Turkish officials said had told Prime Minister Binali Yildirim that the two sides could iron out their differences over dinner. “He says ‘we can have dinner with the prime minister after the election.’ There is no such prime minister. You have lost Turkey,” said Erdogan.
The French and German leaders condemned Erdogan’s “unacceptable” remarks accusing Germany and the Netherlands of acting like “Nazis.”
Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel “consider comparisons with Nazism and aggressive statements against Germany and other member states unacceptable,” they said in a joint statement after speaking by telephone, the French president’s office said.
While Erdogan has repeatedly accused the countries of acting like “Nazis,” the EU has warned Ankara to show moderation in its language.


Suicide attacks target police in Tunis

Updated 48 sec ago
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Suicide attacks target police in Tunis

  • A suicide attack targeted police on the main street of Tunisia's capital on Thursday morning, wounding a civilian and several police personnel
  • A second suicide bomber blew himself up near a police station in Al-Qarjani district in the Tunisian capital

TUNIS: A suicide attack targeted police on the main street of Tunisia's capital on Thursday morning, wounding a civilian and several police personnel, a police officer at the scene told AFP.
Body parts were strewn in the road around a police car on Habib Bourguiba avenue near the old city in Tunis, an AFP correspondent said.

A second suicide bomber blew himself up near a police station in Al-Qarjani district in the Tunisian capital, wounding four people, the interior ministry said on Thursday.