Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday blamed France’s nationwide riots on “institutional racism” and the country’s colonial past, Agence France-Presse reported.
The French government has been battling riots and looting in Paris and across the country since 17-year-old Nahel M. — a French citizen of Algerian background — was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop last Tuesday.
Erdoğan has portrayed himself as a defender of the world’s Muslims since leading his Islamic-rooted party to power in Turkey two decades ago.
He blamed the French unrest Monday on “Islamophobia” that he linked to France’s colonial past.
“In countries known for their colonial past, cultural racism has turned into institutional racism,” he said on television, after chairing a weekly cabinet meeting.
“At the root of the events that started in France is the social architecture built by this mentality. Most of the immigrants who are condemned to live in ghettos, who are systematically oppressed, are Muslims.”
He also condemned the widespread looting that has accompanied the unrest.
“The streets cannot be used to seek justice. However, it is clear the authorities should also learn from the social explosion,” Erdoğan said.