Erdogan Condemns Attack on U.S. Embassy
On Sept. 14, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for restraint in reaction to “The Innocence of Muslims” movie. The amateur film’s offensive portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed has prompted protests in more than a dozen countries in the region since Sept. 11. Erdogan condemned the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The following are excerpts from his speech at the Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting.
“Defamation of Islam’s sacred values and insults to Prophet Mohamed cannot be considered a practice of freedom of expression and religion. Insults to religions, prophets, holy values embraced by people cannot fall in the scope of these freedoms. On the contrary, such approaches damage the very basis of these freedoms. This is, at the same time, a relationship of cause and effect. That is why, we, as leaders, ought to take every measure and precaution against such provocative actions and currents.”
“The right to protest can neither be used as a pretext nor as a justification for resorting to any sort of violence or committing terrorist acts against innocent civilians. There is no place in Islam for such acts and this is neither conscientious nor Islamic. Islam’s message to humanity is of peace, tolerance and humanism, and it is forbidden and condemned in Islam to harm innocent people. Therefore, nobody should dare to use Islam as a means to justify acts of violence and terror, such as the most recent incident we had witnessed in the attack against the US diplomatic mission in Libya. The perpetrators of such violent acts, who exploit and misuse the discourse and the symbols of Islam, actually do the greatest harm to the Muslims.”
“Therefore, both the mentality and the organization behind the movie in question, and the ones who committed this terror act by misusing the Islamic discourse and symbols, must be condemned vehemently.”
“Today is holy Friday for Muslims. Friday prayer is a gathering for worship and holy values. Let us be cautious against violence, terror and provocations which might inflict harm to innocent people at today’s prayer.”
“We shall not fall in the trap of provocation. I would like to remind all Muslims yet one more time: This is a very serious provocation, a very serious incitement. Those who resort to violence in return will themselves be considered provocateurs against Muslims; and we reject that. We cannot accept that under any circumstances.”
“In order to put into practice the alliance of civilizations, we have to embrace our values with utmost diligence. I call upon all Muslims to protect Islamic values and Prophet Mohamed’s stance in an exemplary way, with dignity and prudence.”
The Prime Minister delivered the following remarks in response to a question on the issue following his speech:
“As much as there are officials who successfully manage the process that began in Tunisia, there are also forces that cannot accept success and choose to provoke. The current Government in Tunisia has displayed a very firm stance against such attempts from the beginning and did not allow extremism. There are those now in Egypt who are provoking gatherers in Tahrir Square. However the current Egyptian President’s stance at this point is very democratic and to the point. His statements such as “display your reaction through your thoughts, not violent acts leading to terror”, and messages about explaining how this work can be carried out within democracy are noteworthy.
“Yet I believe that there was a serious vacuum resulting from the fact that the current Government in Libya is a temporary one, and this set the stage for extremist forces to perform such an act. We are a country that has sacrificed many of its envoys to international terror. We are currently a country that is combating terror. We can only fight terror if we develop a common combat platform regardless of in which part of the world it is or which religion it belongs to.”
“If we do not carry out this fight together, we will continue to live through different moments of sadness in different countries. I don’t think my dear Friend, President Obama would see this film positively either. The mindset that is behind this movie unfortunately represents an extremist one that carries an element of provocation. I believe this certainly has to be convicted, it has to be punished.”
“This provocation unfortunately led to the tragic outcomes, and we condemn this act in Libya in the strongest terms. We are strongly against it. I already expressed in my letter of condolence (to President Obama) that we are ready to take the necessary steps jointly.”