Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has ignored widespread criticism by continuing to show footage of the Christchurch mosque massacre at his campaign rallies.
The Turkish leader has been using clips from the attack to denounce Islamophobia ahead of March 31 local elections as he tries to stoke nationalist and religious sentiments.
Speaking at the northern town of Eregli on Tuesday, the president called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the gunman who killed 50 people at two mosques on Friday.
‘If New Zealand fails to hold the attacker accountable, one way or another we will hold him to account,’ he said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the gunman who killed 50 people at two mosques, during a rally on Tuesday
Erdogan also showed footage of the Christchurch attack to a crowd (pictured) of thousands in a bid to to denounce Islamophobia ahead of March 31 local elections
‘There are no sentences longer than 15 years in our laws,’ he continued.
‘What are you saying? [Someone] is going to slaughter 50 Muslims who are worshipping, and there’s no such article in your laws?
‘This is human life. How cheap is human life. If there’s no such thing in your laws, then make new legislative regulations, and don’t give murderers like these a right to life.’
Erdogan also took aim at New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the World War I Gallipoli campaign, claiming their motive was anti-Islam oriented.
‘Why did you come here? What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here? The only reason: we’re Muslim, and they’re Christian.’
The president has been criticised for exploiting the video footage even as authorities have cracked down on the internet and social media to stop the clips from spreading.
The country’s opposition party accused Erdogan of playing the footage ‘for the sake of [winning] three or five votes.’
Facebook announced on Tuesday that the livestream was viewed less than 200 times live and 4,000 times in total before it was removed.
Erodgan had spoken at a rally featuring an image of independent Queensland senator Fraser Anning (pictured)
Erdogan has as inflamed previously-warm diplomatic ties by referencing the sacred Gallipoli campaign of 1915, saying anyone with anti-Muslim sentiments will be ‘returned in coffins.’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the remarks were ‘deeply offensive’
The company said it used technology to block visually similar videos, before using audio tech as well, catching 1.5million videos before they were uploaded in 24 hours. A further 300,000 videos were later removed.
Erdogan has also been accused of inciting a rift between previously-warm diplomatic ties by referencing the sacred Gallipoli campaign of 1915 in the wake of the attack.
On Monday, the 65-year-old leader referenced the doomed campaign during a public address on an outdoor podium.
‘Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins,’ he told a rally featuring people waving Turkish flags.
‘If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers.’
The Gallipoli campaign killed 8,141 Australians. The nine-month Gallipoli campaign at the Dardanelles, in Turkey, saw 860 Australians killed in five days, following the doomed landing on April 25, 1915.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison later slammed Erdogan’s warning as ‘deeply offensive.’
Speaking to reporters in Canberra on Wednesday, Mr Morrison said: ‘Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians, and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment.’
‘They are offensive because they insult the memory of our Anzacs and they violate the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli, of the promise of Ataturk to the mothers of other Anzacs.’
He said he did not accept that the president’s comments reflecting the feeling of the people of Turkey and ‘all options were on the table’ in terms of Australia’s response.
Mr Morrison met with the Turkish ambassador Korhan Karakoc at Parliament House on Wednesday.
‘We had a frank exchange with the prime minister and the Gallipoli spirit will always remain,’ the ambassador said on his way out of Parliament House.
During an interview with Sydney radio 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones he said the comments were deeply offensive but also unhelpful.
‘I think it’s our job here not to escalate this. It’s our job to take the temperature down,’ he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Australians and New Zealanders would soon travel to Gallipoli to mark Anzac Day and 100 years of friendship with Turkey.
The Turkish president said they will hold the attacker accountable if New Zealand fails to do so
He echoed Mr Morrison’s sentiments saying the comments are ‘foolish and offensive remarks at a time when New Zealanders are mourning.’
Australians planning to travel to Turkey for Anzac Day are now being urged to exercise caution and await further advice, following the incendiary comments.
Armenian National Committee of Australia executive director Haig Kayserian said the Turkish president’s comments were outrageous.
‘What Erdogan is doing is responding to a hate crime by spreading more hate,’ he said.
‘He is disrespecting ANZACs by referring to their return to Australia and New Zealand in coffins, while at the same time threatening those of our citizens who wish to pay respects to the memory of our ANZACs in Gallipoli.’
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people.
Turkey is a member of G20, the global forum which Australia is seeking agreement to act on social media companies broadcasting terror attacks like the Christchurch shootings.
‘I hope he’ll join with me in addressing the issues around social media when it comes to terrorist attacks,’ Mr Morrison said of his Turkish counterpart.