US and Israel should not escalate Jerusalem tensions: Erdogan

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city's European and Asian sides in Istanbul, Turkey, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns the ancient city is the “red line of all Muslims.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the US and Israeli governments to “not take steps that will escalate tension.”

The Turkish president’s remarks were broadcast as a video message on Saturday during the 16th Islamic Circle of North America-Muslim American Society Convention in Chicago, Illinois – one of the largest Muslim gatherings in North America.

Understanding ‘real strength’

President Erdogan drew attention to global conflicts and turbulence.

“It is time the Muslim world understand its real strength. We must not allow anyone to divide us based on ethnic, sectarian or cultural differences,” he added.

“On one side we have Muslims extending across from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia battling with conflict, terror, famine and poverty while at the same time these countries also have to struggle against the rise of Islamophobia and cultural discrimination ascending in Western countries.”

Citing the “discriminatory politics” used as a “tool” for votes, Erdogan said: “What is even worse about this picture is the kind of indifference that is being shown. Many Western politicians and members of the media in fact play the ostrich when it comes to discriminatory trends and hate crimes against minorities.”

He called on American Muslims who are “politically, socially and civil society wise empowered” to support Turkey’s struggle in drawing attention to the “attempts that aim to create inner conflict.”

The status of Jerusalem

Regarding the recent UN resolution against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Erdogan said, “The victory we gained on the issue of Jerusalem is an indicator of the many things we can achieve together through solidarity…This victory at the same time demonstrates to the world that there are values that cannot be bought with money. The blackmailing and threats prior to the voting have been futile.”

He added, “In the sight of 128 countries the whole world claimed to support the protection of Jerusalem’s historical status and holiness. It is especially true that everyone must draw a lesson from the vote on Jerusalem.

“We are inviting the American and Israeli governments to not take steps that will escalate the tension. It is because Jerusalem is too precious to become a sacrifice for our own interests.”