It's not a bad joke; it's a very bad joke. Turkey, where all variants of ethnic and religious xenophobia are a national pastime, is accusing the West of being racist.
Speaking after a spat with Austria and Sweden over news reports and tweets from those countries that accused Turkey of allowing sex with children under the age of 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that the behavior of European countries reflected the "racism, anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish (trend) in Europe."
He is talking about the same Europe where the inhabitants of one of its biggest cities, London, recently elected a Muslim as its mayor. In Turkey, not even the smallest village of a few hundred inhabitants has a non-Muslim mayor.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) blasted European countries for "racism, anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish (trend)," partly in response to a tweet by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (right) that read: "Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse."
In "racist" Austria, the police immediately arrested two suspects in connection with an attempt to set fire to a Turkish cultural center in the northern Austrian town of Wels -- and at a time of rising tensions with Turkey. By contrast, Turkish law enforcement officials arrested five former gendarmerie intelligence officers just recently -- nine years after the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. These officers would probably never have been implicated if the two Islamist allies, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Fethullah Gulen, his staunchest political ally when Dink was assassinated, had not turned into each other's worst nemesis in power-sharing fight in 2013.
Yeni Akit is an Islamist newspaper and one of Erdogan's media darlings, a kind of Turkish Pravda in its fanatical support of the president. Its editors always find a seat in the elite group of journalists who accompany the president in his private jet traveling to foreign capitals.
Recently, one of Yeni Akit's most prominent columnists, Abdurrahman Dilipak wrote:
"There is no such religion as Christianity ... In reality, Jesus Christ was a Muslim coming from Jewish tradition ... The name of the religion revealed to Christ was Islam ... Christianity is nothing more than a cultural adherence ... Judaism is already a tradition that has imprisoned itself to its own race ... [Jews'] fears are as big as their rage."
Funny, Dilipak is an Islamist and his holy book acknowledges the two monotheistic religions he denies.
In another column, Dilipak claimed that "there is no such thing as the Greek nation or the Greek civilization." Then, in following lines that exhibit typically an Islamist's confused mind, he claims that "the Greek civilization is a civilization of ... plagiarism."
Yeni Akit did not need to hide its racism even in the aftermath of a bloodshed the entire world -- except Islamist- denounced. In July, in Nice, France, shortly after the Islamist terror attack that killed more than 80 civilians, the newspaper's headline read: "France, the perpetrator of genocide in Africa, deserves worse."
Yeni Akit is a perfect reflection of Turkey's popular and official racism. In March, when a jihadist suicide bomber killed three Israelis and one Iranian on a busy Istanbul street, Irem Aktas, head of the women's and media division of the AKP branch in Istanbul's Eyup district, commented on social media that: "Let the Israeli citizens be worse, I wish they all died." When she wrote that in her Twitter account, at least 11 Israeli citizens injured by the bomb were being treated at Turkish hospitals. She was not prosecuted for her remarks that "wished death" to injured Israelis.
Turkey's religious -- and ethnic -- xenophobia can take amusing turns, too. In September 2015, Turkish authorities banned showing religious symbols and playing music related to various religions at yoga centers. They said that having Buddha sculptures and mantra symbols, as well as playing religious music and burning incense, could be considered violations which could lead to the closure of these centers.
About a month before Turkey's war on the "religion of yoga," the country's top religious body, the Religious Affairs General Directorate, issued a warning about the spreading of the new "religion" of Jediism" -- the religion of the Jedi warriors in the Star Wars series. "Jediism ... is spreading today in Christian societies. Around 70,000 people in Australia and 390,000 people in England currently define themselves as Jedis," the article said, before engaging in an Islamic-based critique of a number of Hollywood blockbusters.
Against this embarrassing background, Turkey is accusing Europe of being racist. That would be like North Korea accusing Europe of being a rogue state.
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.