Electioneering Erdogan claims New Zealand attack a wider assault on Turkey


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week that the deadly New Zealand attack on two mosques was part of a broader operation targeting Turkey.

Erdogan, campaigning for local elections this month, has presented the attack as part of a wider assault on Islam and has broadcast in public a video made by the attacker showing the carnage.

An accused Australian white supremacist has been charged with the killing of 50 people in a massacre he claimed was a strike against Muslim "invaders".

The attacker livestreamed the killings and published a manifesto referencing Turkey and the minarets of Istanbul's famed Hagia Sophia, now a museum that was once a church before becoming a mosque during the Ottoman empire.

"This is not an isolated event, it is something more organised," Erdogan said during an event in Canakkale in western Turkey, without giving more details. "They are testing us with the message they are sending us from New Zealand, 16,500 km (10,250 miles) from here."

Erdogan and Turkish officials have condemned the attack and portrayed it as a sign of rising Islamophobia that the West has ignored.

But the Turkish leader, in full campaign mode for March 31 municipal elections for his AKP party, has repeatedly referenced the attack during electoral events. At weekend campaign events, Erdogan projected the video filmed by the attacker on large screens, provoking criticism as social media platforms have been trying to stop its spread.

Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos showing the viral footage of the Christchurch mosque rampage as social media giants came under pressure for failing to block images.

The Turkish leader also made repeated reference to the "manifesto" posted by the alleged New Zealand attacker in which the latter expressed a desire to see Istanbul return to the Christian Constantinople it was before its conquest by the Ottomans.

"We have been here for a thousand years and God willing, we will stay here until the apocalypse," Erdogan said. "You will not make a Constantinople out of Istanbul."    (AFP)

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