Pictured: Flowers and tributes outside Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand -- one of the two mosques attacked in the March 15 mass shooting. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Since the March 15 massacre of dozens of Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Turkey has joined the rest of the world in condemning the murders, praying for the victims and commemorating the event by laying wreaths at the sites of the slaughter.
This is a fitting response to a mass shooting of innocent people, but there seem to be some problems with it where Turkey is concerned.
The first is the way in which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been making cynical use of video footage from the deadly attacks to bolster his candidates' standing ahead of the March 31 municipal elections -- by blaming "global Islamophobia" for the carnage.
The second, and more critical problem, is the discrepancy between the way the government and the people of Turkey have been treating the Christchurch attacks, as opposed to the way they have been responding to the murder of non-Muslims in their own country.
As the Turkish journalist Can Ataklı stressed on his regular TV program "Gün Başlıyor" ("The Day's Beginning"), the people of New Zealand, a predominantly secular Christian country, have been coming out in droves to denounce the murders of Muslim worshippers and to rail against anti-Muslim violence -- imams have even been reciting the Koran in parliament -- while the Turks did nothing even slightly similar following the deadly al Qaeda bombing attacks on the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues in Istanbul in 2003. "Did the people of Istanbul visit the synagogues?" Ataklı asked rhetorically. "Did they pray there according to Jewish traditions [to convey the message that] 'I am one of you?' No."
Ataklı went on:
"Can you imagine portions of the New Testament or the Torah being recited in Turkey's parliament? The 'tolerance' [that Turks speak of] is just hot air. It is simply a lie. There is no such thing [in Turkey or Islamic scriptures]..."
The same lack of empathy was exhibited by Turks in 1986, when Palestinian suicide-terrorists associated with Abu Nidal targeted the Neve Shalom synagogue; and in 1992, when the same Jewish house of worship was attacked by Turkish Hizballah.
More recently, in 2017 -- when Turkish nationalist Islamists affiliated with the organization "Alperen Hearths" threw rocks at the synagogue and kicked its doors in an attempt to break in -- Muslims in Istanbul also showed little support for or solidarity with the Jewish victims and their families.
Turkish Muslims have also been either active participants in -- or apathetic to -- the ongoing persecution of Christians and converts to Christianity, and the vandalizing of Christian churches, monasteries, schools and cemeteries in the country.
The systematic persecution of two other non-Muslim communities -- the Yazidis, who are now virtually extinct in Turkey, and the Alevis -- also has elicited little or no outrage from the Turkish Muslim public.
While Muslim worshippers were being murdered in New Zealand -- and Turkey was among the nations condemning the anti-Muslim slaughter and voicing outrage over "Islamophobia" -- little attention was paid to the Christians in Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Pakistan and elsewhere who were being violated, abducted or massacred by extremist Muslim perpetrators. Where is the reciprocity?
Until Turks and other Muslims are as vocal in their condemnation of religious-based violence and hate crimes against non-Muslims as they are about those against Muslims, it is hard to take what Ataklı referred to as their "talk of tolerance" seriously.
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.