Speaking at an event in Istanbul organized by the Directorate of Religious Affairs for the holy birth week, a special week celebrated only in Turkey in which the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is marked, Erdoğan said: "We are now paying a price for our war against terror but we will not stop until the end."
Speaking at the Sinan Erdem Sports Complex in Bakırköy district of Istanbul, he also added that Turkey conducts anti-terror operations against all terrorist organizations that threaten its unity including the PKK, Daesh and Al Qaida "in order to ensure the safety and peace in the country."
Touching upon the notion of 'jihad' that is "perverted and misinterpreted" by the so-called "Islamic" terrorist organizations, he said that Islam is a religion of peace, and terrorist organizations such as Daesh, Al Qaida and Boko Haram are the biggest enemies of Islam. "Jihad is not terror at all, jihad is not about setting up a terrorist organization and killing, oppressing Muslims and innocent people. The greatest form of jihad is to fight the ignorance that let those terrorist organizations emerge."
"Unfortunately, these terrorists, these so-called 'Muslims,' but in fact the fiercest enemies of Islam, only serve Islamophobia, and are torturing, oppressing, and killing innocent Muslims," he added.
"These modern-day terrorist organizations have harmed Islam even more than the biggest enemies of religion the world has ever seen," Erdoğan further stated.
Due to its proximity to Syria and Iraq where Daesh is active, Turkey is exposed to threats from Daesh, which classifies the country among its many enemies. The group's clashes with rebels occasionally spill over into Turkish territories, while Turkey struggles to keep its lengthy border with war-torn Syria well-protected with walls and firepower.
Turkey has listed Daesh as a terrorist organization since 2013. So far, more than 3,300 suspects have been investigated for links to Daesh and other militant groups.
According to the Interior Ministry, 847 suspected Daesh members are currently in custody, most of whom are foreigners.
Turkey is also at risk from a flow of foreign recruits to the group in Syria. The latest figures show some 27,000 people from more than 100 countries were stopped as they attempted to travel to Syria to join the militants.
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