Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison summoned Turkish Ambassador Korhan Karakoc on Wednesday to denounce Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his comments following a deadly mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March.
“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians, and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment. They are offensive because they insult the memory of our Anzacs and they violate the pledge that is etched in the stone at Gallipoli. I do not accept the excuses that have been offered for those comments", Morrison said.
The prime minister further added that he would be waiting for the Turkish government to respond to his demand to withdraw Erdogan's comments:
"I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table", Morrison continued, stressing that Australia's ambassador to Turkey will meet with members of Erdogan's government later in the day.
He also pointed out that Canberra was also reconsidering its travel advice for Australians planning trips to Turkey.
Morrison's remarks came in response to Erdogan's fiery speech at a campaign rally, where he blasted New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the World War I Gallipoli campaign, suggesting that their incentive was anti-Muslim-oriented.
"What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here? The only reason: We're Muslim, and they're Christian", Erdogan was cited as saying by The Associated Press.
Speaking a day before on the occasion of the 104th anniversary of Battle of Canakkale, also known as the Gallipoli campaign, Erdogan warned that anyone who arrives in Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in "caskets".
"They are testing us from 16,500 km away, from New Zealand, with the messages they are giving from there. This isn’t an individual act, this is organised. […] Your grandparents came here… and they returned in caskets. Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers", Erdogan said.
During his campaign rallies, Erdogan has also been using the extremely graphic footage of the Christchurch attack to condemn Islamophobia ahead of upcoming elections. Despite the New Zealand government's efforts to halt its spread, the blurred video with clear sounds of gunfire has repeatedly been shown to thousands of people across Turkey.
Peters is set to "confront" Erdogan's comments during his trip to Turkey later this week.
The diplomatic row erupted several days after a 28-year-old Australian, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, streamed online his shooting attack on Muslims gathered for Friday prayers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. As a result of the shooting, at least 50 people have died, with New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describing it as a terrorist act.
New Zealand's authorities have been in contact with Facebook in order to have the video removed from the web. Over the first 24 hours, the social media network removed 1.5 million versions of the original footage, but it is still available online.
In the 73-page text, Tarrant reportedly described his actions as a "terrorist attack" and proclaimed himself a "racist".
The Australian was allegedly "inspired" by his trip to France, where he witnessed what he called an "invasions of France by non-whites", and decided to "take revenge" for Europeans lost to terror attacks committed by Muslims.