- Turkish President Erdogan has called the U.S. "uncivilized" and not democratic
- The comments come amidst a diplomatic row between the NATO allies
- Arrest warrants have been issued for 13 of Erdogan's bodyguards over violence in Washington
- Online, Erdogan has been mocked for his apparent hypocrisy amid his own nation's human rights violations
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the U.S. as “not a civilized country”, after arrest warrants were issued for 13 of his bodyguards.
He also suggested that the U.S. was not democratic in comments signalling an escalation of the ongoing diplomatic row between the NATO partners.
“They say the United States is the cradle of democracy. This can’t be true. This can’t be democracy,” Erdogan said on Saturday.
“If arrest warrants are issued against my bodyguards in absentia ... in the United States, where I went upon invitation, excuse me but I will not say this is a civilized country.”
In August, 15 members of Erdogan’s security team were indicted over what was described as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters during his May visit to Washington.
Tensions worsened when Turkey arrested two U.S. consular staff in May, accusing them of links to last year’s failed coup. Earlier this month, Turkey banned U.S. citizens from the country after its embassy suspended visa services.
Relations were already frayed between the two over Washington’s refusal to extradite U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of engineering the attempted coup.
The U.S. also backs the Kurdish YPG militia against ISIS in syria, angering Turkey which considers the fighters part of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), widely defined as a terrorist group.
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Erdogan’s comments have sparked ridicule online, with many pointing instead to the “uncivilized” alleged violence of the bodyguards.
Others mocked what they saw as empty words from the Turkish President.
So, President Erdoğan says the US is not a civilised country. I'm not sure what the US is going to do faced with this shocking revelation.— Has Avrat (@hasavrat) October 21, 2017
Erdogan’s hypocrisy was also implied by several Twitter users, who highlighted the widespread human rights abuses in Turkey.
Only 13 detained? But Erdogan detains thousands without charge. He’s a hypocrite and knows nothing about democracy or civilisation.— Richard (@enquivontles) October 21, 2017
@jhmorgan54 simply responded to Erdogan's words by tweeting figures on Turkey's post-coup clampdown.
According to Turkey Purge, a website set up to monitor post-coup rights abuses, 60,000 have been arrested since July 2016, while close to 150,000 have lost their jobs.
Human Rights Watch has accused Turkey of introducing measures contravening “basic human rights safeguards” under the state of emergency announced following the coup attempt.
There have been widespread reports of torture and mistreatment in police custody, with many held for long periods without trial.
While those detained and sacked are usually accused of Gulen links, the crackdown has been criticized as little more than an attempt to silence any opposition to Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
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