Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Europe of staring a “clash” between Christianity and Islam with a ruling allowing employers to ban headscarves as part of wider restrictions on religious and political symbols.
Speaking hours after his foreign minister warned that “holy wars will soon begin”, the Turkish President launched a fresh attack amid an ongoing row over the cancellation of his supporters’ rallies across Europe.
He said the European Court of Justice ruling that upheld the dismissal of two Muslim women who refused to remove their hijabs started a “clash between crescent and cross” in terminology alluding to the Crusades.
“Shame on the EU. Down with your European principles, values and justice," Mr Erdogan told supporters in Sakarya. "They started a clash between the cross and the crescent, there is no other explanation."
In a combative speech, Mr Erdogan hit out at European leaders in Netherlands and Germany after Turkish ministers were presented from holding events drumming up support ahead of a constitutional referendum.
The Turkish President said the Dutch Prime Minister, who beat far-right leader Geert Wilders in Wednesday's general election, had lost Ankara's friendship by banning Turkish political campaigning in the country.
“Oh Mark Rutte, you may have come out as the first party, but you should know that you have lost a friend like Turkey,” Mr Erdogan added.
The dispute has intensified since a rally to be held by foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Rotterdam was cancelled on Saturday.
Dutch authorities withdrew permission for the foreign minister’s plane to land when he vowed to visit the country regardless, sparking a series of tit-for-tat sanctions.
Mr Cavusolglu claimed the "mentality" of Dutch and European politicians would spark "holy wars" in Europe on Thursday, claiming there was no difference between Mr Rutte's victorious party and "fascist" Mr Wilders.
The Turkish President and prominent ministers have called the Dutch government “fascists” and “Nazis”, while EU leaders have called the allegations offensive and “detached from reality”.
In pictures: Turkey coup attempt
In pictures: Turkey coup attempt
Turkish President Erdogan attends the funeral service for victims of the thwarted coup in Istanbul at Fatih mosque on July 17, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey
Burak Kara/Getty Images
Soldiers involved in the coup attempt surrender on Bosphorus bridge with their hands raised in Istanbul on 16 July, 2016
A civilian beats a soldier after troops involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, 16 July, 2016
Surrendered Turkish soldiers who were involved in the coup are beaten by a civilian
Soliders involved in the coup attempt surrender on Bosphorus bridge
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wave flags as they capture a Turkish Army vehicle
People pose near a tank after troops involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, 16 July, 2016
Turkish soldiers block Istanbul's Bosphorus Brigde
A Turkish military stands guard near the Taksim Square in Istanbul
Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim square
Turkish soldiers detain police officers during a security shutdown of the Bosphorus Bridge
Turkish Army armoured personnel carriers in the main streets of Istanbul
Chaos reigned in Istanbul as tanks drove through the streets
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to media in the resort town of Marmaris
Supporters of President Erdogan celebrate in Ankara following the suppression of the attempted coup
The dispute has sparked protests in Turkey and across Europe. A protester scaled the Dutch consulate in Istanbul and replaced the national flag with the Turkish banner during demonstrations on Sunday, while Turkish protesters have been photographed stabbing oranges and holding signs reading “fascist Holland”.
Ankara also halted high-level talks with Dutch government officials on Monday and closed its airspace to the country’s diplomats, while repeating threats to scrap a deal struck with the EU last year to slow the flow of refugees to Greece.
“You bar my minister from entering the Netherlands...and then you expect us to grant access to migrants?” Mr Erdogan said. “There can be no such thing.”
Allies of the Turkish President are targeting more than a million Turkish voters living in Europe who will be eligible to cast a ballot in the vote on 16 April.
The referendum could see Turkey’s parliamentary system replaced with an executive presidency using constitutional amendments that have alarmed human rights groups by granting sweeping powers to Mr Erdogan.
Areas of Germany, Switzerland and Austria have stopped rallies supporting the change - with all citing safety and administrative reasons - but the cancellations have been seen as a response to a security crackdowns and purges following an attempted coup.
Angela Merkel's office said she discussed the tensions between EU nations and Turkey with Francois Hollande in a phone call on Thursday.
The two leaders reiterated that Nazi allegations levelled against Turkey's Nato allies were “unacceptable”, while the French President expressed solidarity with Germany and other affected countries.
A statement from the German government said the pair agreed that appearances by Turkish politicians in Germany and France can be approved - if they are “registered in good time and transparently, and adhere strictly” to national law.Reuse content