Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly condemned the recent burning of an Ottoman-era mosque by the PKK terrorist organization in southeastern Turkey’s Diyarbakir province.
In his address to local authorities during a meeting at the presidential palace in capital Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan said: “I call on the people of the region, the terrorist organization is targeting your material and spiritual existence…Protect your faith.”
The 16th century Ottoman-era Fatih Pasa Mosque was severely damaged in a fire in Diyarbakir on Monday. The regional governor’s office said PKK terrorists set the mosque ablaze as security forces entered the Fatih Pasa neighborhood to remove illegal barriers.
“The mosque’s original doors and shutters were burnt, and the walls were damaged in the fire set off by members of the terrorist organization,” the regional governor’s office had said in a statement.
Erdogan called on Kurdish people in southeast Turkey “to throw off” the PKK terrorist organization from the region.
“Your children are your future, protect your children! Freedom is your right; protect your life liberty, travel liberty, worship, trade and political liberty,” he said.
“Help the state throw off from your street, neighborhood, your town that [PKK] organization,” Erdogan said, adding: “You already must have seen that this separatist organization has nothing in common with this country, this nation and especially with your values.”
The president said that even if the terrorist organization stood up against the Turkish state a thousand times, Turkey was capable of crushing it “because behind this state there is a nation taking power from a thousand years of common history”.
He said that an organization which burnt mosques had no place in that common history and common future.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also slammed the attack, saying that Turkey’s registered historical buildings were under the risk of destruction at the “hands of such barbarians, who are enemies of culture, religion and history”.
“For God’s sake, how different is the PKK who set the Fatih Pasa Mosque on fire, and destroyed Dort Ayakli Minare, from Daesh who destroyed the Palmyra? These have no respect for religion, culture, history, brotherhood and Diyarbakir,” Davutoglu said.
The Fatih Pasa Mosque is in an area of Diyarbakir that has been under curfew since Dec. 2. During such curfews, PKK terrorists usually erect barricades and dig ditches to keep security forces out of neighborhoods.
Since July, official figures suggest that more than 195 members of the security forces have been martyred and over 1,700 PKK terrorists have been killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq, including airstrikes.