Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan has denounced the obscure video that mocked the life of the Prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam – but also insisted that protests against such insults cannot justify terror.
Erdogan called the video a “clear and serious provocation” and a “hostile act” while speaking at a conference in Yalta, Ukraine over the weekend. He added that insulting the sacred values of Islam and its prophet cannot be justified as exercising freedom of speech. However, he slammed last Tuesday's savage terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that ended with the murders of American Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomats.
"No one can justify acts of terror and violence, the latest example of which was the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, saying that they are acting in the name of Islam. Those who carry out such actions by exploiting Islamic rhetoric and symbols harm Muslims the most,” he pointed out. “Therefore, both those who are behind this movie and those who carry out terrorist acts should be condemned with hatred.”
Erdogan also warned Muslims to beware provocative calls for violence by Islamist extremists.
As for the Arab Spring, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek commented in a speech in Istanbul over the weekend that “it is no longer a spring. It is [now] the Arab winter.”
The ongoing turmoil in countries across the Middle East affected by last year's uprisings have yet to adjust to the new governments, he said in a report published in the Turkish Zayman daily newspaper, adding that this has been a source of frustration for moderate Islamist lawmakers.
Nevertheless, Erdogan seemed unruffled by the process, noting the transformation is still in its early stages. “The fight for democracy cannot be won easily,” he commented.
“There will be ups and down, there will be periods of turmoil... The process will proceed in the direction of fulfilling legitimate demands [of the people.] In this sense, we are all witnessing the normalization of the course of history.”