ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned the European Union it should crack down on Islamophobia amid rising anti-Muslim protests rather than “trying to teach a lesson” to Turkey.
Erdogan told Turkey’s ambassadors posted abroad in a speech in Ankara that they should pursue an assertive foreign policy to represent strong and self-confident “new Turkey” under his rule.
In a new attack on the EU, Erdogan called on the 28-member bloc to “revisit its Turkey policy,” accusing Europe of dragging its feet on Ankara’s decade-old membership bid.
“Believe me it is regrettable that the EU is trying teach a lesson to Turkey instead of trying to tackle very serious threats it is facing,” he said.
Erdogan said racist, discriminatory activities and Islamophobia were on the rise in Europe, complaining that racist organizations won sympathy in some Western societies with “each passing day.”
“The Islamophobia — which we constantly draw attention to and warn of — represents a serious threat in Europe.”
“If the issue is not dealt with seriously today, and if populism takes European politicians captive, the EU and European values will come into question,” he said.
His comments came a day after controversial German group PEGIDA rallied thousands of people for a new rally in Dresden for a demonstration against what it calls the “Islamisation of the Occident.”
Erdogan told the ambassadors Turkey needed to see itself as a great country.
“Turkey is not a country which anyone can accuse by wagging their finger in big arrogance. Those who have such habits should abandon them,” he added.
“Those who shake their finger and reprimand Turkey must see that they are dealing with a new Turkey, big Turkey, with its economy, democracy and foreign policy.”
Erdogan in August moved to the presidency after over a decade as prime minister in a period during which he worked to earn Turkey respect as a global Islamic power.