Insulting people's beliefs has nothing to do with freedom, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, decrying rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Western countries.
"You have been closely following the meanness in France toward the Prophet (Muhammad) under the label of 'freedom of thought,'" Erdoğan said in a video message to the 23rd annual convention of the Muslim American Society on Saturday.
"Insulting people's holy figures is far from freedom. Because the thought is different, the insult is different."
Stressing that ideological fanaticism has gained more ground, Erdoğan said those who encourage insults against the prophet and those who ignore attacks on mosques are trying to hide their fascism.
Underlining that they use freedom of thought and the press while attacking sacred values, he said they cannot tolerate even the slightest criticism of themselves.
Describing Islamophobia as a disease that spreads faster than the coronavirus, Erdoğan said: "Cultural racism, discrimination and intolerance have reached levels that cannot be concealed in countries that for many years have been hailed as cradles of democracy."
Highlighting that Islamophobia and xenophobia have turned into a trend that guides state policy and makes daily life difficult, Erdoğan said the marginalization of Muslims due to their beliefs, language, names or attire has become ordinary in many countries.
He said Turkey, which strives to prevent ethnic and sect-based conflicts, does not hesitate to respond if anyone targets their sacred values.
"We are trying to follow a balanced, fair and self-confident policy that will set an example for all humanity, especially regarding religious freedoms. We do not interfere with anybody's beliefs or lifestyle, and we guarantee the freedom of worship of all our citizens living in the country," he added.
On the Turkish community living in America, Erdoğan said he is gladly following the close brotherly relationship they have developed with other Muslim groups.
He went on to say that the annual meeting of the Muslim American Society will give hope and strength to Islamic society.
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