Erdogan chastises West over Koran burnings

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday berated the West over desecration of the Koran, saying that attacks on Islam had reached “unbearable” levels.

Erdogan has for months put pressure on Sweden — which has welcomed Kurdish activists Turkey sees as terrorists — over burnings of the Islamic holy book that the Stockholm government has condemned but says are protected as freedom of speech.

Developed countries “are suffering from racism along with xenophobia and Islamophobia as if it were a plague,” Erdogan told the UN General Assembly.

“It has reached intolerable levels,” he said. “Unfortunately, populist politicians in many countries continue to play with fire by encouraging such dangerous trends.

“The mentality that encourages the hideous attacks against the holy Koran in Europe, by allowing them under the guise of freedom of expression, is essentially darkening (Europe’s) own future through its own hands.”

Protests in Sweden that have involved Koran burnings have been organized by refugee Salwan Momika, sparking outrage in the Middle East including his native Iraq.

Erdogan in July said he would lift a blockade on Sweden’s bid to join NATO but the Turkish parliament has not yet ratified the country’s membership.

© 2023 AFP