Wellington: Erdogan exploits Christchurch massacre for propaganda

The New Zealand government ready to send the foreign minister to Turkey. Canberra could also reconsider relations with Ankara. During an election rally, the Turkish leader demanded the death penalty for the bomber and threatened the citizens of the two nations. "Crazy words" for the Australian opposition leader.


Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Wellington wants to send Foreign Minister Winston Peters to Turkey, to respond in person to the words of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the Christchurch attack, in which 50 Muslims gathered for Friday prayers lost their lives.

In the context of a campaign for the local elections, the Ankara leader exploited the attack on the two mosques on March 15 to stand as a bulwark in the defense of Islam and threatens to kill those who have anti-Muslim sentiments.

During the rally held yesterday, images of the attack were even transmitted, Erdogan asked New Zealand to reintroduce the death penalty for the main suspect in the massacre of the two mosques. He added that he will "charge" the 28-year-old Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, author of the attack, if Wellington does not.

New Zealand’s justice system has opened a murder investigation against the suspect; he will have to appear before the judges on April 5th.

Meeting with journalists, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stressed that Foreign Minister Peters “is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face" with the Turkish leaders, after Erdogan's unacceptable words. Hewill ask "urgent clarifications" from the Ankara government, after condemning the dissemination of the images of the shooting that could trigger a vendetta against their fellow-citizens among the Muslims in the world.

Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister - country of origin of the author of the massacre - Scott Morrison has summoned the Turkish ambassador to Canberra for a meeting, during which he will ask for Erdogan's words to be removed from Turkish state television. "I look forward to seeing the response of the Turkish government - added the premier - before taking further action. But I assure you that all the options are on the table ".

Furthermore, the Australian government could reconsider the travel visas for its fellow citizens who are planning trips to Turkey. In the past, relations between Ankara, Wellington and Canberra have always been good. Every year thousands of New Zealanders and Australians go to Turkey, to remember the thousands of soldiers who fell in the "Battle of Gallipoli" during the First World War.

Erdogan himself recalled the story in yesterday's rally, strongly criticizing the Anzacs (an acronym that indicates the bodies of the Australian and New Zealand army) for their role in the conflict. And he added that he will return anyone who comes to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments "inside their caskets".

Words that the Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten has called "crazy" and that will end up feeding the aims of those who "want to divide" and feed tensions.

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