WASHINGTON – In the inaugural ceremony of America’s largest mosque, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized US presidential candidates for encouraging xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric, Russia Today reported on Sunday, April 3.
“It is very interesting and shocking for me to see some of the presidential candidates here in the United States using these allegations and using these labels against Muslims openly and on a continuous basis,” Erdogan said as he spoke to a mainly Muslim crowd at the inauguration of the Turkish-funded Diyanet Center of America, in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC.
In his speech on Saturday, Erdogan referred to Republicans racing to run for US presidency who has inflamed anti-Muslim rhetoric to win vote.
For example, Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
His main party contender, Ted Cruz urged the police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the US.
The Turkish President stressed that the Muslim community in the US has nothing to do with terrorism and in fact are “contributing to strengthening the United States,” adding that Muslim communities are “primary elements” of American society.
“It is unacceptable for the Muslims of the world to be forced to pay the price of a horror of a pain and suffering created by a handful of terrorists, infamous terrorists here in the aftermath of 9/11,” he stressed.
“We have been fighting terrorism in Turkey for the past 35 years, so please make sure that you observe the terrorism not only in Paris and Brussels, but also in Turkey and Pakistan,” Erdogan said to the crowd.
As Erdogan spoke, the crowd chanted “We are proud of you, Mr. President,” waving Turkish flags and hoisting pro-Erdogan signs.
Erdogan said the center will act as a platform to send the true message of Islam across the globe, preventing what he called “the clash of civilizations” between the Muslims and the non-Muslims.
“We have to keep the fight up against those who are defaming our faith,” he said, adding that Turkey is doing its best to combat terrorist organizations.
The Diyanet Center of America in Maryland is located 21 kilometers from Washington DC.
The Islamic social complex, called kulliya, is the largest mosque in America and the first to have twin minarets on its top.
The land was first bought in 1990 by the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs and had only a 100-square-meter small Turkish mosque and community building on it.
The new center will include a library, conference and exhibition halls, an assembly hall and a reception area.
The Islamic Research Center within the building will provide a consultancy service for undergraduate and graduate students coming from Turkey to the US.
There is also a 300-square-meter (3,229—square-foot) Islamic Arts Museum below the mosque and 10 traditional Ottoman houses within the complex, where guests can lodge.
With its two minarets, the mosque is built on 879 square meters (9,461 square feet) and along with its courtyard is large enough for approximately 3,000 Muslims to pray at the same time.