Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken out against “highly offensive” comments made by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stating that anti-Muslim Australian would return “home in coffins” if they visit Gallipoli this Anzac day, following last week’s terror attack in New Zealand.
Reports emerged on Wednesday which claimed that Erdogan had seemingly threatened that Australians who hold anti-Muslim views would die like their ancestors, referencing the thousands of Anzac soldiers who died during the WWI battle at Gallipoli.
The Turkish leader is alleged, according to The Australian, to have told an election rally: “Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins. If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers.”
Erdogan was speaking about the Christchurch terror attacks at the time and claimed the Australian shooter was targeting Turkey in his attack.
Speaking on Wednesday morning, the PM blasted Erdogan’s “reckless” comments, telling reporters outside of Parliament House: “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 our Anzacs. So I understand the deep offence Australians would be feeling about this, it is truly upsetting. The excuses I don’t accept are that things get said in the heat of the moment.”
.@ScottMorrisonMP on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments regarding ANZACs: These comments are highly insulting and highly reckless. It violates the pledge Atatürk made to our ANZACs
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) March 20, 2019
Morrison also sat down with the Turkish ambassador Korhan Karakoc at Parliament House on Wednesday morning, but said after the meeting he did not accept the ambassador’s “excuses”.
Erdogan’s comments came ahead of a national election in the Turkey and in the wake of Friday’s terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of 50 people when a gunman opened fire on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
A further 30 people remain in hospital as a result of the devastating attack, which was live streamed on social media by the alleged gunman. Australian man Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in relation to the incident.
The alleged gunman said he carried out the attack to avenge “thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders”. Earlier this week Tarrant dismissed his lawyer, who revealed that the accused will instead represent himself at trial.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten also weighed in on Erdogan’s comments and shared a statement on social media, which read: “These are foolish and offensive remarks at a time when New Zealanders are mourning. Intemperate and regrettable remarks like this only play into the hands of those who seek to divide. They do not protect the peace and security of any nation.”
He continued: “It is up to all leaders of all countries to stand against hate, to demonstrate that unity makes us stronger, that hope can triumph over fear, and that love is greater than hate.”
Every year, on April 25, many Australians travel to the Turkish Peninsula of Gallipoli to pay their respects to the soldiers who fought and lost their lives in the famous battle in 1915.