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Morrison slams "highly offensive'' comments by Turkey's president

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he does not accept the excuse given by the Turkish government, after its president said Australians with anti-Muslim views would be sent home in coffins like their grandfathers.

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan was referencing the WWI battle at Gallipoli, in which thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers died fighting the Turks, as he responded to the Christchurch mosque massacres.

Morrison said he did not accept that the president’s comments reflecting the feeling of the people of Turkey and “all options were on the table” in terms of Australia’s response.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians, and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” he said today.

“They are offensive because they insult the memory of our Anzacs and they violate the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli, of the promise of Ataturk to the mothers of other Anzacs.”

Morrison met with the Turkish ambassador Korhan Karakoc at parliament house.

“I do not accept the excuses that have been offered for those comments,” he said.

The Turkish president told an election rally: “Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins.”

“If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers.”

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Australians and New Zealanders would soon travel to Gallipoli to mark Anzac Day and 100 years of friendship with Turkey.

“These are foolish and offensive remarks at a time when New Zealanders are mourning,” Shorten said.

Despite Turkey’s explosive response, Morrison said it was the job of tolerant societies like Australia not to escalate the war of words.

Armenian National Committee of Australia executive director Haig Kayserian said the Turkish president’s comments were outrageous.

“What Erdogan is doing is responding to a hate crime by spreading more hate,” he said.

“He is disrespecting ANZACs by referring to their return to Australia and New Zealand in coffins, while at the same time threatening those of our citizens who wish to pay respects to the memory of our ANZACs in Gallipoli.”

Erdogan also called on New Zealand to restore the death penalty for the gunman, warning Turkey would make the attacker pay if they did not.

Morrison said Australia was reviewing its travel advisory to Turkey.

-AAP

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