Defining 2020 as "a challenging year" for all, Turkey's top diplomat said on Friday that in addition to COVID-19, Islamophobia is also on the rise like never before.
Speaking at the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Niger's capital Niamey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu pointed out the rising trend of Islamophobic, racist and anti-migrant discourse, especially in Europe.
"However, migrants and Muslims continue to contribute to their communities. A recent example is the development of the COVID-19 vaccine by two Turks living in Germany," he said, referring to scientists Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci.
They attracted the world's attention in November after their firm BioNTech, in collaboration with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, announced a 90% success rate in its initial COVID-19 vaccine.
Saying that Europe lacks visionary leaders and that some of the current ones even dare to reform Islam, he pointed out that the peace and well-being of millions of Muslims in the West are being threatened under the guise of counter-terrorism.
As an example, Çavuşoğlu recalled how French police officers arrested children and held them for over 11 hours in Albertville, France on false allegations of "apology of terrorism."
"We must be awake to this dangerous rhetoric and actions and we should send a clear message regarding our red lines," he added.
Mentioning that the process of normalizing relations encourages Israel and its brutal practices, Çavuşoğlu stressed that Israel's decision to suspend its annexation plan is a deception.
"The settlement expansion has reached the highest levels. Their goal is clear to make an independent, sovereign, and continuous state of Palestine physically impossible," he said.
Noting a growing misperception that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of OIC countries' agenda, Çavuşoğlu warned that Palestine's enemies could take advantage of the situation if member states do not strengthen their unity.
"If we cannot unite on the cause that lies at the foundation of this organization, how can we defend the unity of Ummah [or Muslim communities] who will take our word seriously?" he added.
In his speech, the foreign minister also reiterated that the joint declaration signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, is a promising step towards lasting peace in the region.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 and ended with a Russian-brokered truce six weeks later.
Çavuşoğlu added the need to speak up for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Uyghurs, Rohingyas, Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish Muslim minority in Greece, the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Muslims in Europe and the rest of the world.