Elham Asaad Buaras
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on January 6, warned the EU it should tackle “Islamophobia” amid rising anti-Muslim protests. Erdogan said Islamophobia is on the rise in Europe, complaining that racist organisations 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 Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident or PEGIDA rallied 18,000 people in Dresden for a demonstration against “Islamisation” of Europe and “criminal asylum seekers.”
Many people ignored a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel to snub such street protests.
PEGIDA movement began with just a few hundred in October.
Extreme right-wing parties have grown in popularity across Europe in the past decade, surfing on anti-immigrant sentiments amid widespread discontent over the dismal economic situation.
Thousands also joined counter-demonstrations in several cities against PEGIDA. Ten thousand people joined a Muslim community rally against Islamophobia in Berlin where Merkel said her Government would do everything in its power to fight intolerance amid a growing anti-Islamic movement in the country. Merkel used the occasion to deliver her strongest condemnation yet of PEGIDA.
“What we need to do now is to use all the means at our disposal…to combat intolerance and violence,” Merkel said.
“To exclude groups of people because of their faith, this isn’t worthy of the free state in which we live. It isn’t compatible with our essential values. And it’s humanly reprehensible. Xenophobia, racism, extremism have no place here,” she added.
Bahray, a 20-year-old Eritrean Muslim man, was killed in a knife attack in the same day in the eastern German city of Dresden. Saxony’s Left Party Deputy Juliane Nagel pointed that the potential Islamophobic background of the murder should be taken into consideration.