Australia demands Turkey's Pres. Erdogan withdraw threat to send visitors from Australia and New Zealand back 'in coffins'

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has deeply offended the citizenry of Australia and managed to unite the governing party and its principal opposition with his angry response to the mosque massacre in Christchurch, allegedly perpetrated by an Australian citizen.

SBS News from Australia reports:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has demanded Turkish president Tayipp Erdogan withdraw his comments threatening to send visitors from Australia and New Zealand back "in coffins".

The Turkish strongman made references to the death of Anzac troops during the WWI Gallipoli campaign as he ramped up rhetoric in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Gallipoli was and remains a traumatic event and an open wound in the history of Australia and New Zealand, as well as Turkey.  The Associated Press explains the context:

The tragedy of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I is etched deep into the identities of Australia and New Zealand, as well as Turkey.

More than a century on from the carnage that saw around 44,000 Allied soldiers killed and an estimated 250,000 Turkish casualties, memories of the Gallipoli campaign have resurfaced[.] ...

The Gallipoli campaign, which lasted some eight months, was a shattering defeat for the allies with costly losses of British, Irish, Australian and New Zealander troops.  Toiling in terrible conditions, with disease rampant, allied soldiers were often gunned down close to the coast where they were under siege.

In proportion to the small populations of Australia and New Zealand at the time, the casualties suffered were enormous.  To this day, the commemoration of the battle on ANZAC Day in both countries is the most solemn holiday of the year, surpassing Armistice Day.

ANZAC Day in Melbourne, 2015 (photo credit).

Erdoğan aspires to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire, which was dismembered at the conclusion of World War I.  By recalling the Ottoman victory at Gallipoli, he is signaling that Turkey is thinking about defeating its infidel enemies again, and restoring itself to leadership in the Islamic world.  Erdoğan also is deliberately aggravating the infidel-led governments of the antipodean nations.  Incidentally, Turkish immigration to Australia has been significant, with an estimated 150,00 to 200,000 Turkish citizens resident there, and another 40,000–60,000 Turkish Cypriots also resident, out of a population of 25 million, or roughly one percent.

The dispute may well escalate.  SBS reports:

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison summoned the Turkish ambassador over the comments on Wednesday.

Speaking with reporters after the meeitng, Mr Morrison said he rejected "excuses" from the Turkish ambassador to Australia offered during the meeting at Parliament House this morning. 

"I was just deeply offended, as any Australian would be.  The first thing that came to my mind was the promise of (Mustafa Kemal) Ataturk — Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and, an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit and the promise that was made to Australians," Mr Morrison said.

Because Erdoğan is seeking to reverse the secularization under Ataturk, Morrison is pushing a button for Erdoğan.

Erdoğan's remarks also targeted New Zealand and made the demand that the death penalty be restored there (which is known as interfering in the domestic affairs of another country):

In the same speech, Mr Erdogan also called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the gunman who killed 50 people at two Christchurch mosques, warning that Turkey would make the attacker pay for his act if New Zealand did not. 

"Your grandparents came here... and they returned in coffins.  Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers," Mr Erdogan told an election rally of thousands in northern Turkey on Tuesday. 

"You heinously killed 50 of our siblings.  You will pay for this.  If New Zealand doesn't make you, we know how to make you pay one way or another," Mr Erdogan.

New Zealand's prime minister has announced a ban on semi-automatic weapons, but apparently that is not enough for the vengeance-seeking neo-Ottoman Erdoğan.

This dispute could get increasingly ugly.

Hat tip: John McMahon

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