PM calls for common attitude against Islamophobia after murder of three Muslims in US

SENA ALKAN @senaalkan

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in an exclusive interview late on Wednesday with state-run TRT Haber channel, commented on the murder of three Muslim students in the U.S. and touched on increasing violent acts against Muslims in the EU and U.S. recently.

"We hope there is no racist act behind these murders. But it is too early to say so. When it is clarified, all administrations in the EU and the U.S. will be able to show the common attitude," Davutoğlu said, and to unite against all racist acts, including Islamophobia.

Saying that there is a huge increase in violence against Muslims in some countries, including the U.S. and the EU, he said that to accuse all Muslims collectively based on terrorist acts purported by a certain terrorist group is direct racism.

"[ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham], is a terrorist organization, you can define it, you can limit it or react against it. But what kind of precautions are we able to take against racist moves that have ISIS mentality in the EU and U.S.?" he asked.

On Tuesday three people died after being shot at a condominium complex east of the University of North Carolina and a man has been arrested, according to police sources. Chapel Hill police told local news that Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, had been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. A statement from Chapel Hill police did not give details on the possible motive for the attack, but the victims' religion and some comments the alleged shooter put online triggered broad online speculation that it was a hate crime.

Thousands of people gathered on February 11 in Chapel Hill to mourn the Muslims students. The alleged gunman was a self-described "anti-theist." Some claim that the tragic story covering the murders of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill has not been covered by the mainstream Western media. This negligence has been criticized by Muslims around the world on social media channels such as Twitter, claiming that the story has not been given significant attention because the three young people killed were Muslims. Twitter users showed their criticism by using the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter.

On the regional crisis, Davutoğlu said if administrations stay deaf to the legitimate demands of the nation, radicalization may break out. Pointing to the 2009 elections in Iraq, Davutoğlu said that he exerted efforts to see an inclusive government in the country during his time as foreign minister.

"If an inclusive government had been set up in Iraq in 2010, the region would be different than today," he added.

Bilateral relations between Turkey and Iraq were clouded during the time of current Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, and his government. Ankara widely criticized Maliki for policies that alienated Sunnis and helped lead to the rise of ISIS, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria. Yet Abadi's government in Iraq appears to be attempting to fix the soured relations as sources said that the unexpected visit came after Davutoğlu called Abadi when he took office.

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