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'You've lost Turkey as a friend': Erdoğan goes on tirade against Merkel, Hollande, and the EU

The Turkish leader’s anger has been sparked by a court ruling against women wearing hijabs to work.

Turkey Europe Source: Lefteris Pitarakis/PA Images

TURKEY’S PRESIDENT HAS accused the EU’s top court of starting a “crusade” against Islam after a ruling allowing European companies to ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic headscarf.

“The European Union’s court, The European Court of Justice, my esteemed brothers, have started a crusade struggle against the (Muslim) crescent,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a televised speech.

“Where is freedom of religion?” he said, referring to the court ruling this week.

“Shame on your European Union acquis!” Erdoğan said, referring to EU law. “Shame on your values. Shame on your law and justice!”

“Europe is swiftly rolling back to the days before World War II,” he added.

EU’s response

German cabinet meeting Source: DPA/PA Images

The French and German leaders condemned Erdoğan’s “unacceptable” remarks accusing Germany and the Netherlands of acting like “Nazis”.

Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel “consider comparisons with Nazism and aggressive statements against Germany and other member states unacceptable”, they said in a joint statement after speaking by telephone, the French president’s office said.

While Erdoğan has repeatedly accused the countries of acting like “Nazis”, the European Union has warned Ankara to show moderation in its language.

The European Court of Justice said it does not constitute “direct discrimination” if a firm has an internal rule banning the wearing of “any political, philosophical or religious sign”.

Turkey last month said it was lifting a historic ban on female officers wearing the Islamic headscarf in the country’s officially secular armed forces, the last institution where the wearing of the garment was forbidden.

Dispute with the Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS-THE HAGUE-PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS-EXIT POLL-VVD-LEADING-MARK RUTTE Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The response comes after The Netherlands and Germany blocked Turkish ministers from holding campaign rallies to secure a “yes” vote in next month’s referendum on expanding Erdoğan’s powers.

Erdogan told the Dutch prime minister he had lost Turkey as a friend, despite Mark Rutte’s victory over the far-right in parliamentary elections.

“Hey Rutte! You may have emerged as the number one party in the election but you must know that you have lost Turkey as your friend,” Erdoğan said, amid a diplomatic crisis with The Hague due to the blocking of campaign rallies by Turkish ministers.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier said there was “no difference” between the ruling Dutch liberals and the “fascist” anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders.

Cavusoglu also predicted that “religious wars” will start in Europe due to the rise of the far right.

Read: Person injured at IMF Paris offices after opening exploding envelope

Read: ‘The Netherlands said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism’: Wilders set to be defeated in election

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