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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Speech by H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, at the United Nations General Assembly meeting to condemn the terrorist attacks in New Zealand, 2 April 2019, New York

Also available in the following languages: Spanish, German

[ This is an unofficial English translation of the original Turkish speech ]

Mr. President, Honourable Ministers, Esteemed representatives, today, we have come together under this roof, which has been established as the “Parliament of humanity’s conscience”, in order to address a growing threat for all of us and to display a common stance against this common threat.

Today, the United Nations General Assembly brings us together around the sanctity of human life, which is our fundamental asset. However, this fundamental asset is under the open attack of terrorists and terrorism. On March 15th in Christchurch, New Zealand, when fifty-one Muslims, praying there were martyred and many others wounded by a fascist and barbarian terrorist, who had a highly organized mind and planning behind him, he targeted essentially the common values ​​of humanity.

Today, we are displaying a very meaningful solidarity right here, in order to condemn this anti-Islamic and anti-human attack and to commemorate the victims of this attack. Today we stand firm against terrorists and give the world the following message: you are going to fade away in the spiral of hatred, hate, fear and violence you are trying to spur and you will never succeed. Here, under the roof of the United Nations General Assembly, the manifestation of this determination by the representatives of every faith, every geography, every race and nationality is the most meaningful response to your dirty ideologies and heinous attacks.

Most esteemed representatives, in the name of the Turkish people, I extend my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent people who were brutally murdered in their sacred places of worship. I also address once more our condolences to the Government and people of New Zealand. Right immediately after the terrorist attacks, our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has tasked our Vice President and myself to visit New Zealand, in order to show our solidarity. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Ms. Ardern and her Government, we ourselves witnessed the strong stance and dignity of the people of New Zealand, and also how they embraced the Muslim community living in their country.

As you all know, Turkey is a country that has fought with extreme determination for years against all forms of terrorism, both at national and global level. Today, we are conducting a relentless and determined struggle against both DAESH and PKK-PYD-YPG, as well as DHKP-C and FETÖ, at the same time. Strengthening efforts to combat terrorism at a global level will always continue to be one of Turkey's utmost priorities. With this understanding, as the Summit Chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, we organized an Organization of Islamic Cooperation Emergency Executive Committee Meeting on March 22nd in Istanbul. As we also emphasized it in the joint communiqué of the meeting, regardless of their motivation, wherever and by whoever they are committed, and no matter whom they target, no acts of terror can be excused or justified. The tragedy of the Christchurch attack has shown to the world that intolerance, racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia are feeding much bigger threats to all humanity than expected. These facts are undoubtedly linked. Islamophobia and racism are often intertwined. The racist, xenophobic, anti-Islamic rhetoric and violence can no longer be ignored. The international community, including the United Nations General Assembly, cannot be deemed to be exempted from this responsibility. The common voice of humanity against xenophobia and racism must be heard. Therefore, exactly here and right now, we have to declare a global mobilization that emphasizes, including immigrants, minorities and all believers, we stand united as part of humanity.

It should be announced that no tolerance will ever be shown to any form of racism, including anti-Islam, anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity. We should keep in mind that in a world where even one person is not safe, none of us can be safe. We should approach the issue from this point of view, and remember that we can only deal with common threats if we show a common awareness and determination.

Honourable Ministers, esteemed representatives, no matter where in the world, the radicalization process that feeds terrorism and acts of terror is based on illusory and distorted historical narratives and poisonous conspiracy theories.

It shouldn't be disregarded that reckless politicians and media outlets that insist on defining Islam as terrorism are among the factors that feed this terrorist attack. We once again deny and condemn, under this platform, such impertinent, unjust and deliberate approaches trying to portray our sublime religion Islam, which means peace itself, and terrorism side by side.

We must all together refuse all the concepts such as Islamic terrorism, Christian terrorism, Jewish terrorism or Buddhist terrorism. Terrorism has no religion, language, race, nationality. Terrorism is a crime against humanity. It is the common responsibility of politics and the media to comprehend this truth and to lead to a common understanding for all. It is high time to take effective measures against rising injustice, prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, hate crimes and hate speech. We cannot and must not allow these horrific tendencies to poison our societies and lead to violence. In this direction, we must apply our current legislation effectively and develop new legal regulations. It is an absolute necessity to mobilize all elements of the society, opinion-makers, political leaders, media and digital media actors. We must ensure that those who trigger, perpetrate, finance and support terrorist acts are brought to account. In this respect, it is of vital importance to monitor, record and report hate crimes.

Esteemed representatives, honourable Ministers; our world is going through a rare period of uncertainty and change. Conflicts are getting more and more complicated. Peace at home and peace in the world are still interconnected in all countries. Turning a blind eye to threats to peace and not using all the means of the UN General Assembly would be the worst response we can give against the challenges we are faced with. That is exactly why we are gathered together to adopt the resolution we submitted jointly, which is numbered A/73/L.79 and titled “Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief”. This resolution will give the following messages to the international community: each and every kind of discrimination and terrorism is a global threat. We have a single, consistent and clear principle of justice, without double standards or ambiguity. We regard anti-Islam, anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity as crimes against humanity. We resolutely denounce and condemn all kinds of discrimination and terrorism. We commit to never sinking into pessimism and to combining our powers. This meeting and the adoption of our resolution will be a turning point and a milestone for the international community and constitute a basic roadmap for everyone. I would like to thank Mr. Guterres, the Secretary General, for his meaningful call on the UN Alliance of Civilizations initiative and the High Commissioner to develop an action plan to prevent attacks on religious sites and to safeguard the holiness of these sites. As one of its founders, we know very well the potential of this initiative.

Before concluding, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the President of the General Assembly, Ms. Espinosa and his Vice-President, Ambassador Al Thani, who has been with us today, and to the member states, for their strong support and solidarity. I urge the General Assembly to affirm firmly our common resolution to fight against all prejudices, discriminations, intolerance, violence, hatred, racism and terrorism all over the world. I would like to end my speech by reminding the invitation of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi), who lived in Anatolia eight hundred years ago and embraced all humanity with his messages.

Listen with ears of tolerance,

See with eyes of compassion,

Speak the language of love…

I thank you very much.