Turkish media is reporting that President Erdoğan has spoken at a meeting of a pro-Turkish lobbying group monitored by German intelligence. According to the Hürriyet Daily News report:
April 11, 2021 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the rise in cultural racism against the Turks and Muslims in Europe, blaming incompetent European politicians for adding fuel to the flames in a bid to cover their failure in internal and external politics. “The politicians who are unsuccessful in foreign policy and cornered in internal politics are trying to cover their incompetence by attacking Muslims and me. Islamophobia has turned to be one of the most important tools for Western politicians to hide their failure,” Erdoğan said at a meeting with women and youth branches of the International Union of Democrats, a Turkish nongovernmental organization composed of the Turks living abroad, mostly in Europe, on April 12. The recent developments in Europe and how the European media has covered them are proving the rise in cultural racism in the continent where around six million Turks are living, Erdoğan said, stressing that an expanding and strengthening Turkish diaspora has already become a nightmare of some European politicians.
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The Union of International Democrats (UID), formerly known as the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), describes itself as an NGO founded in 2004 that operates in several European countries and which combats Islamophobia as one of its purposes. German media has described the UID as a lobbying group for President Erdoğan and his AKP political party. As of 2018, German domestic intelligence was monitoring the UID, describing it as “nationalist” and incompatible with Germany’s free democratic order. According to an article by two Turkish academics, Turkey has attempted to influence its diaspora and Muslims in the West through instrumentalizing discourse centered on Islamophobia.
Relevant GIOR reporting has included:
- In February 2021, we reported that the new head of the UID was a member of the Turkish ultranationalist Grey Wolves movement.
- In January 2021, we reported that a French organization headed by a UID founder had rejected a “charter of principles” written by French Muslim leaders and aimed at fighting sectarianism and extremist teachings.
- In January 2021, we reported that a Turkish think tank connected to President Erdoğan hosted a panel discussion on “Criminalization of Muslim Political Activism in Europe.”