President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday that he cannot describe the U.S. as a civilized country after Washington issued detention warrants in absentia for 13 of his security guards in a brawl outside the Turkish embassy during his visit to the country in May.
"If arrest warrants are issued for my 13 bodyguards in a country where I went upon invitation, I'm sorry, but I cannot say that country is civilized," Erdoğan said at the Civilizations Forum at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul.
A grand jury in June indicted 19 people, 15 of which were Turkish security officials, in connection with the incident in Washington between protesters and Erdoğan's security personnel.
During Erdoğan's visit to the U.S. back in May, supporters of the PKK terrorist organization, officially recognized as such by the U.S., triggered a melee outside of Turkey's embassy in Washington, D.C. Following the incident, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the failure by U.S. authorities to effectively take precautions was the main cause of the incident.
On May 16, the first fight reportedly broke out at the Turkish embassy when supporters of the terrorist group threw water bottles at Turkish citizens, triggering a 10-to-15 second scuffle in the middle of the road. Only two police officers interceded in the fight and it was clear the police were not ready, as there were only around 10 police officers outside the embassy.
Later, when Erdoğan arrived at the embassy building, protesters continued their grave insults, shouted slogans and threw more bottles. The head of the president's security detail stepped in, followed by Turkish citizens who were there to see their president. Only after security interceded, the protesting group was able to be dispersed.
In his speech, Erdoğan also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's policy regarding Muslims, saying Turkey never closed its doors to people who thought differently.
"Muslims in America are facing expulsion so it means there is a problem in the country," he said.
The Trump administration laid out late last month new restrictions to replace Trump's previous travel ban, which was set to expire, adding two non-Muslim-majority countries to the list of designated nations while dropping Sudan.
The countries that face travel restrictions under Trump's new order are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen.
They were designated because they have either not met higher screening and information sharing requirements or present what officials call sufficient risk factors.
This latest attempt to curtail immigration to the U.S. was dealt a legal setback after a Hawaii judge ruled Tuesday that it suffers from the same legal deficiencies as his previous directives.
The ban was set to go into effect within hours when U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said in his ruling that Trump's latest executive order "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor".