Turkish President Erdoğan urges Muslim countries to warn West against Islamophobia and ‘modern Lawrences’

T. E. Lawrence by James McBey, 1918 (DeAgostini/Getty)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Muslim countries yesterday to warn Western countries against a rise in Islamophobia, addressing a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.

“We want our friends in the West to see that Islamophobia has become a serious problem. We also expect Islamic countries to sincerely warn the West over this issue,” he said.

Addressing the 10th session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, Erdogan said the only way to overcome the crisis in the Islamic world was unity, solidarity and alliance…

Erdogan said Islamic states had to defeat the successors of the iconic British officer Lawrence of Arabia who were seeking to disrupt the Middle East. His comments came ahead of a tour of Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti scheduled to begin Jan. 21.

He said acts of terrorism “never bind Muslims or Islamic countries” and called on the Muslim world to engage in “self-criticism” to define a united route in order to address the challenges. “When the Muslim world remains silent and every sect stands behind their own sympathizers, others are stepping in: terrorists and modern Lawrences,” he said.

British officer T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, helped Arab leaders fight a guerrilla insurgency against the forces of the Ottoman Empire in the desert during World War I. Modern Turkey was built on the ruins of the empire…

Erdoğan carrying on about Islamophobia is par for the course, barely worth posting. But this is first time he has referred to “modern Lawrences” — a colourful new addition to the collection of “Erdoğan rants.”