By Sorwar Alam
Turkey’s president on Friday said that with its trends of rising xenophobia and racism, Europe is turning into “an open-air prison.”
Speaking at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan decried the growing trend of ethnocentrism, cultural racism, and Islamophobia in Western countries.
“Europe is turning into an open-air prison,” he told a entrepreneurship certificate ceremony of the Islamic Cooperation Organization's Women's Advisory Council.
"We are witnessing a different atmosphere in the Western world," he added.
“The room in Europe for people with different outer appearances, religions, languages, and skin colors to live is shrinking.”
Erdogan also stated that headscarf bans are growing increasingly widespread on the continent.
“The idea of imprisoning Muslim women in their homes is spreading like a virus across the continent, as many countries impose a ban on wearing headscarves in workplaces and some educational institutions,” he said.
At almost every opportunity, those who try to give Turkey lessons on democracy and humanity applaud the violations of basic human rights in their own countries, Erdogan added.
"Turkey is one of the few countries drawing attention to this injustice and double standard.
"Today, no one in Turkey is being marginalized any more due to their beliefs, thoughts, or lifestyle."
Erdogan said that Muslim women are the biggest victims of the atmosphere in the West.
He also touched on recent debates over “moderate Islam.”
“Countries that do not let women drive cannot talk about moderate Islam,” Erdogan said.
"What kind of moderate Islam is this?"
He also criticized the term “moderate Islam” itself, saying it was actually introduced in order to weaken Islam, adding: "There can be no such understanding."
“Islam is unique...Our religion does not have such moderate or non-moderate sides... No one should try to weaken Islam," he said.
On the plight of the Muslim Rohingya, the president said: “Unfortunately, most Muslim countries don’t care about the Rohingya”.
Erdogan stated that most Muslims countries did not speak up about the Rohingya persecution at the latest UN General Assembly, except for Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
He also reiterated his criticisms of the structure of the UN Security Council, suggesting a new structure “where every group of believers, every ethnic group, is involved”
Since Aug. 25, over 613,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.
The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue at this fall's UN General Assembly.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.