Calling Turks the “future of Europe,” Turkey’s president on Friday implored his compatriots living on the Continent to have multiple children as an act of revenge against the West’s “injustices.”
“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a rally on Friday in the city of Eskisehir, while campaigning for a referendum that would solidify his power. “Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you.”
The remarks come at a time of increasingly fraught diplomatic relations between Europe and Turkey in the wake of the refugee crisis, the concurrent rise of Islamic terrorism and right-wing nationalism in Europe, and a crackdown on civil liberties in Turkey.
Turkish nationals have lived in Europe for decades and have often been the focus of anti-immigrant sentiment. Mr. Erdogan has found that addressing overseas Turks is a convenient way to stir his own citizens’ nationalism and attack a Europe that has become increasingly hostile to Turkey as his government becomes ever more authoritarian.
Last weekend, Mr. Erdogan accused the Netherlands of Nazism after Dutch officials stopped the Turkish foreign minister from landing there for a pro-Erdogan political rally on Saturday, and then escorted the Turkish family minister out of the country early on Sunday, citing risks to public order and security.
“When those incidents began, I said those are fascistic measures,” Mr. Erdogan said in a speech on Sunday. “I said Nazism had risen from the dead. And then I added: I thought Nazism was over, but I was wrong.”
Those comments came just before the Dutch national elections, in which voters rejected the anti-Islamic platform of the politician Geert Wilders but increased his party’s seats in Parliament.
On Friday, around the time Mr. Erdogan was speaking in Eskisehir, Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter: “The fight against Islamization and the EU will be tougher, stronger and far more effective now, being the second strongest political power!” He also posted an image that included the text, “#stopislam”.
Mr. Erdogan is not the first authoritarian leader of a Muslim country to suggest birthrates could alter the demographics of the West. Already, Muslims in Europe are younger than other Europeans and the number of Muslims on the Continent has been increasing steadily, according to the Pew Research Center.
“In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2010,” according to Pew. “This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8 percent of Europe’s population.”