ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out Thursday against “massacres” of Muslims in India after communal riots in New Delhi left at least 33 dead.
“India right now has become a country where massacres are widespread. What massacres? Massacres of Muslims. By who? Hindus,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara after violence broke out this week between mobs of Hindus and Muslims over a citizenship law.
Over 200 people were injured and 33 killed since late Sunday in clashes that saw mobs of Hindus and Muslims fight running battles, armed with swords and guns. Thousands of properties and vehicles were torched in the violence.
According to a document seen by AFP the victims are a roughly even mix of Hindus and Muslims, based on their names.
Erdogan, a devout Muslim, sees himself as a defender of Islam, often taking public stands on issues concerning the faith and its followers.
He accused the mobs attacking Muslims, of hurting children studying in private tuition centres with “metal sticks as if to kill” them.
“How will these people make global peace possible? It is impossible. When making speeches – since they have a large population – they say ‘we are strong’ but that is not strength,” Erdogan added.
The unrest is the latest bout of violence over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s citizenship law, which triggered months of demonstrations that turned deadly in December.
Critics say Modi wants to turn the officially secular country into a Hindu state.
Many of the 200 million Muslims in India fear the citizenship law – combined with a mooted citizens’ register – will leave them stateless or even sent to detention camps.