Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launches opening of Turkish-funded mosque complex in US
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, launched the opening of the Maryland Turkish American Cultural and Civilisation mosque complex on Saturday at an inauguration ceremony in the United States, stating that it will play a crucial role in dealing with intolerance and prejudice against Muslims.
The "complex is not only a mosque, it encompasses a cultural centre, community hall, guest house, Turkish baths and ten examples of traditional Ottoman homes," Erdogan said.
The mosque, which has been designed according to Ottoman architecture, has the capacity to house 750 people for prayer services.
The Turkish president said that the project will "undoubtedly serve all of the American Muslims living in the vicinity of the Maryland area."
Erdogan said that Muslims were a large constituency in the US who were mislabelled by the September 11 terror attacks.
"The expectation for all Muslims to pay the price for the pain and trauma inflicted on America by a handful of terrorists, on September 11, is by no means acceptable."
"Unfortunately we are going through a rough time all over the world where intolerance takes place not only in America, but all around the world, which is why this centre is to play a crucial role."
Erdogan denounced the hate filled rhetoric displayed amongst Presidential candidates in the upcoming elections, stating that "Muslims living in the US cannot be forced to make the choice between being a Muslim or an American."
"These are words that you may have heard from me before, but I would like to reiterate it again that terrorism has no religion, nationality, descent or race. A terrorist deserves to be attributed such a title only for the crimes they have committed against humanity," he added.
Erdogan slammed "specific groups claiming to be affiliated with Islam, including DAESH, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda" for feeding propaganda to anti-Islamic groups "while the Muslim community is trying to break the prejudice held against them."
He specifically emphasised the damage caused by terrorist groups DAESH and PKK, stating that Turkey is one of the main targets.
Erdogan noted that Turkey has been fighting terrorism for more than three decades, referring to PKK terrorists.
Noting Turkey's efforts to help European countries with counter-terrorism efforts, Erdogan reiterated that Turkey had informed Belgium authorities that one of the attackers behind the Brussels suicide bombings was a DAESH affiliate, when he was deported from Turkey, last June.
Erdogan criticised authorities for not taking Turkey's recommendation seriously, adding that "Belgian authorities released the man, which unfortunately took way into a bombing attack"