Rick Perry: Turkey is Run By “Islamic Terrorists”
Presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry claimed during the GOP debate that took place Monday, that Turkey “is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” This statement was in response to Fox News correspondent Bret Baier‘s question concerning the increasing murder rate of women in Turkey, greater press restrictions, and alleged support of Hamas since an “Islamist-oriented party” came to power.
Despite backlash from Turkish officials, the Perry campaign has refused to apologize. Perry’s foreign policy adviser Victoria Coates stated he “does not think that the comments merit an apology”. Coates also referenced Turkey’s “unfortunate behavior” regarding military threats to Israel and Cyprus.
State Department Spokesman Mark Toner dismissed Perry’s statements saying that this administation “absolutely and fundamentally disagrees” with the statements and affirmed that ”Turkey is a stalwart ally in – within NATO as well as bilaterally, and we have a strong partnership with Turkey in addressing issues of regional and global security.” The Turkish government has taken a strong stance on the unrest occuring in neighboring Syria by imposing economic sanctions, deploying troops to Afghanistan, and has agreed to deploy NATO’s “early warning radar system” that is capable of countering ballistic missile threats from Iran.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal called the comments “unfounded and inappropriate”. Unal reminded Gov. Perry that “Turkey joined NATO while the governor was still 2 years old.” Ömer Çelik, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), harshly criticized the statements saying that Gov. Perry hangs “wanted posters” wherever he sees the word “Muslim.”
Gov. Perry also stated in the debate, ”Not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.” According to the Washington Post, “The State Department this year made a request for about $5 million, which was earmarked for peace-keeping and security operations — not what one could consider traditional “foreign aid.”