Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the EU for banning headscarves in the workplace, saying there is no other explanation than "starting a clash between the cross and the crescent."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses crowd during a ceremony in Sakarya, Turkey, March 15, 2017.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses crowd during a ceremony in Sakarya, Turkey, March 15, 2017.

The headscarf ruling by an EU court "started a clash between cross and crescent," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, referring to the symbols of Christianity and Islam.

The European Union's top court ruled on Tuesday that employers in Europe may ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols.

"Shame on the EU. Down with your European principles, values and justice ... They started a clash between the cross and the crescent, there is no other explanation," Erdogan said.

Erdogan also criticised the Netherlands, saying the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had lost the friendship of Ankara.

Erdogan's comments, at a rally in the northwestern province of Sakarya, come a day after Rutte fought off the challenge of anti-Islam and anti-EU rival Geert Wilders in an election victory hailed across much of Europe.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made a similar statement.

"There is no difference between the mindsets of Geert Wilders and social democrats in the Netherlands. They all have the same mindset ... That mindset is taking Europe to the cliff. Soon wars of religion may and will start in Europe," said Cavusoglu.

Hollande and Merkel discuss Turkey row

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that they will allow future events organised over the Turkish referendum, if they abide by French and German law.

Turkish expatriates will head to the polls on April 16 to vote whether the country will adopt a presidential system of government over its current parliamentary system.

The decision came after after a phone call between the two leaders who discussed the row which was triggered by Germany not allowing Cavusoglu to hold a rally a few weeks back.

The leaders said "it was unacceptable for Turkey to use Nazi jibes to criticise Germany and other countries for banning rallies."

Following the diplomatic row, Erdogan and Turkish government officials accused Germany and the Netherlands of being "the remains of Nazis and fascists."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies