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Turkey's Erdogan Cites Rising Islamophobia in US Campaign

  • VOA News

Crowd members hold signs showing support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the inauguration of the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, April 2, 2016.

Crowd members hold signs showing support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the inauguration of the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, April 2, 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dedicated a Turkish-funded mosque near Washington on Saturday, saying he hoped the facility could help eliminate intolerance and Islamophobia that he saw coming from some U.S. presidential candidates.

Erdogan did not identify those candidates by name. But Republican front-runner Donald Trump has in recent weeks called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, while rival Ted Cruz has called for increased police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods across the country.

WATCH: Erdogan Delivers Remarks at Dedication of Mosque Near Washington

Erdogan called it "absolutely unacceptable" to blame all Muslims for terrorist attacks in the West. He further said that recent terror attacks in Brussels and Paris "cannot compare" with violence from militants in his country and in Pakistan.

Islamic State extremists have carried out four major bomb attacks in Turkey in the past nine months, which have killed about 150 people. The Ankara government has also fought a Kurdish insurgency that has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 1984.

A crowd listens to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's speech at the inauguration of the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, April 2, 2016.

A crowd listens to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's speech at the inauguration of the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, April 2, 2016.

Erdogan visited the United States to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Barack Obama, although he did not have a one-on-one meeting with the U.S. leader. Instead he met with Vice President Joe Biden.

On Friday, Obama criticized Turkey's ongoing crackdown on press freedoms. While calling Turkey an "extraordinarily important partner" in the push against extremism, he said the media crackdown "could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling."

Erdogan's U.S. visit has not been without controversy. Ahead of his appearance Thursday at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, Erdogan's security detail clashed with protesters and journalists outside the venue.

Order was later restored when the Brookings president demanded that journalists be allowed to cover the talk.

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