“I am calling out to my citizens, by brothers and sisters in Europe,” Erdoğan said at a rally in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir on March 17. “Have not just three but five children.” “The place in which you are living and working is now your homeland and new motherland. Stake a claim to it. Open more businesses, enroll your children in better schools, make your family live in better neighborhoods, drive the best cars, live in the most beautiful houses,” he said. “That’s because you are the future of Europe. It will be the best answer to the vulgarism, antagonism, and injustice made against you.”This seems to be Erdogan's way of lashing out at Europe--especially Germany and the Netherlands--for their having pushed back on his open attempt to persuade Turkish citizens living in Europe to vote for a new law in Turkey that would give Erdogan more power. Like many countries, including the U.S. and Mexico, Turkey allows registered voters who live outside of the country to vote in national elections. The controversy in this case is that Erdogan has wanted to actively campaign in Europe on behalf of his referendum. You can imagine the reaction in Europe and elsewhere if candidates for U.S. president sent their campaign representatives around the world to influence the votes of U.S. citizens living abroad. It is also true that the European Union's highest court has just ruled that employers can ban the wearing of head scarves at work, as long as they ban all other religious symbols worn by employees. Erdogan was vocally upset at the policy, according to The Guardian.
Unfortunately, these kinds of provocative statements by the Turkish President are likely to feed right into the populist rhetoric, which just experienced at a least a small setback this week when anti-immigrant Geert Wilders in the Netherlands fell short of gaining power in the country.