Turkey committed to defend rights of Muslims in IOK: Erdogan

New York, September 26, 2019 (PPI-OT): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated his country’s resolve to defend the rights of Muslims living in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir including freedom of speech and movement. Addressing an event titled “Combating Hate Speech” co-hosted by Pakistan and Turkey on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Erdogan said Kashmir has turned into an open-air prison and its residents have become prisoners.

“Responsibility falls on all [foreign] state institutions,” said the Turkish president, and urged more active steps on regional and international levels over the issue. He called on international institutions, technology companies, education institutions, media, and non-governmental organisations to step forward and help resolve the dispute.

Erdogan also criticised India’s foreign minister and the country’s envoys in Turkey for expressing discomfort over Ankara’s approach to the Kashmir issue. “I mean, will we determine our policy in any country by asking or taking permission from the leaders in those countries?” he remarked.

Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia announce English TV channel to ‘counter Islamophobia’. The president also denounced violence against Muslims in India who eat beef and urged respect for freedom of faith. “In India, how will we defend Muslim youth who are being whipped, beaten by machetes and even sentenced to death just for eating beef,” Erdogan said.

Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and there has been a rise in attacks on Muslim cattle owners by Hindu nationalists, with several self-styled cow vigilante groups emerging. The Turkish President had also won praise for highlighting the Kashmir issue during his address to the UN General Assembly on Monday.

Thousands of people from Pakistan and Kashmir flooded social media with messages thanking Erdogan for mentioning Kashmir in his speech. #OurVoiceErdogan became the top trending hashtag on Twitter, garnering nearly 300,000 tweets in a few hours.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also thanked him for lending support at the world stage. “We are very thankful that the president has taken a very principled stance,” said Imran, adding Pakistan has a “very good relationship” with Turkey.

During his address to UNGA, President Erdogan had told the body that a solution to the Kashmir issue can only be found through dialogue and the Kashmir issue has awaited a solution for 72 years. “In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbours, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision,” said Erdogan. He said Kashmiris are “virtually under blockade with 8 million people, unfortunately, unable to step outside of Kashmir.”

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