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ISTANBUL – Turkey's president showed parts of a video taken by the attacker who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand to comment on what he called rising Islamophobia.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed the clips over the weekend during campaign rallies for March 31 local elections. The video, which was blurred but had clear sounds of automatic gunfire, was shown to thousands of people at the rallies and was aired live on Turkish television.
Erdogan used the video to comment on attacks on Islam and rising Islamophobia. He accused the Western world for not calling the attack on the two Christchurch mosques "Christian terror," when acts committed by Muslims are called "Islamic terror."
He also referred to a manifesto by the suspected attacker, Brenton Tarrant, in which he threatened Turks and vowed to make Istanbul "Christian owned once more."
Erdogan then shifted his rhetoric to slamming the main opposition's leader, as is common in all of his campaign rallies. He criticized the Republican People's Party's Kemal Kilicdaroglu for blaming Islam and Muslims for the attack.
The opposition leader had condemned the attack on Friday and also said the Islamic world should look within itself to understand the causes of terrorism.
Faik Oztrak, the vice chairman of the Republic People's Party, or CHP, accused Erdogan of using the video as "propaganda materials for the sake of three or five votes." His comments were carried by the official Anadolu news agency Sunday.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said Monday that he told his Turkish counterpart and Erdogan's vice president, who were visiting the country, that the video doesn't represent New Zealand. He said it could also endanger New Zealanders.
Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos of the New Zealand shootings during the first 24 hours after the massacre.