On Friday, a lone gunman launched attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people and injuring dozens more. Terror suspect Brenton Tarrant published a sickening “manifesto” online, calling for the killing of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The document, titled ‘The Great Replacement’ document, allegedly told how Tarrant was influenced by far-right Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in 2011.
But on Monday, during a commemoration of Ottoman soldiers killed in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign against British, Australian and New Zealand forces, the Turkish firebrand warned New Zealanders that he would return any would-be terrorists “in caskets” if they attempted to bring anti-muslim attacks to Turkey.
Using the shocking terror attack as evidence of global anti-Muslim sentiment and a wider threat to Turkey itself, Mr Erdogan told crowds in Cannakkale: “We have been here for 1,000 years and will be here until the apocalypse, God willing.”
“They are testing us from 16,500 km away, from New Zealand, with the messages they are giving from there.
“This isn’t an individual act, this is organised.”
Referring to Istanbul’s previous name under Christian rule, before being conquered by the Muslim Ottoman empire, Mr Erdogan said: “You will not turn Istanbul into Constantinople,.
“Your grandparents came here… and they returned in caskets. Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers.”
It follows news that during Turkish election rallies held hours after the attacks took place, Mr Erdogan showed footage of the deadly massacres to supporters of his Islam-rooted Justice and Development Party (AK Party) – a move that has since been condemned by Christchurch for possibly endangering New Zealanders travelling abroad.
Speaking after a meeting of New Zealand’s cabinet, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said he told his Turkish counterpart that Erdogan’s use of the footage in an election campaign was wrong.
Mr Peters said: “Anything of that nature that misrepresents this country, given that this was a non-New Zealand citizen, imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and that is totally unfair.”
Tarrant was charged with murder on Saturday and remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges. On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was preparing to announce new gun laws after her cabinet agreed, in principle, on reform laws.
Speaking at a news conference, the Prime Minister said: “Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.”
“These aren’t simple areas of law. So that’s simply what we’ll be taking the time to get right.”