Erdogan made the comments on Wednesday, speaking at a United Nations-sponored event meant to try to bridge the gap between Islam and the West. Instead, Erdogan managed to widen the divide:
“We should be striving to better understand the culture and beliefs of others, but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despise them,” Erdogan said, according to a simultaneous translation provided by the UN. “And that is why it is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”
“We not only disagree with it, we found it objectionable,” Kerry said during a press conference in Ankara with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu. According to Reuters, Kerry said he personally raised the issue with Davutaglu and will do so with Erdogan.
“That said, Turkey and Israel are both vital allies of the United States and we want to see them work together in order to be able to go beyond the rhetoric and begin to take concrete steps to change this relationship,” Kerry added.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office said it’s “unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership.”
CAP’s Matt Duss and Michael Werz also condemned Erdogan’s comments on Thursday. “While Prime Minister Erdogan’s outrageous comments seem intended to isolate Israel, they also threaten to further isolate Turkey,” they wrote, adding that his comments ” seemed like an attitude from a bygone era. Casting Zionism together with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia in this way is not only deeply offensive but also quite historically inaccurate and has the potential to promote or justify violence.”