Rick Perry isn’t walking back his criticism of Turkey – even after the foreign ministry for the U.S. ally called on the Texas governor and GOP White House hopeful to renounce his remarks.
In a heated exchange with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday night, Perry was asked whether he stood by his characterization of Turkish leaders as “Islamic terrorists.”
“I said that if they are treating their citizens that way, that they approach that terminology,” Perry responded. He also charged that Turkish leaders “allow for honor killings.”
So-called “honor killings” – the slaying of a relative who is perceived to have brought shame on one’s family – have indeed been on the rise in Turkey. According to a Christian Science Monitor report citing Turkish government statistics, the number of “honor killings” in the country rose from 66 in 2002 to nearly 1,000 in the first seven months of 2009.
“Honor killings” are not condoned by the Turkish government, however, and as the Christian Science Monitor reports, Turkey changed its laws in 2004 and 2005 to increase the sentences for those convicted of the crime.
In Tuesday night’s CNN interview, Perry sought to turn the question back around by asking Blitzer whether he was defending the practice of “honor killings.”
“I hope that you’re not defending honor killings as an appropriate act in any country. ... Are you sitting here and defending the act of honor killing?” Perry asked.
Blitzer responded that he wasn’t, and he didn’t believe that the Turkish government supports such killings, either.
“They’re not supporting that,” Blitzer said. “No one defends that except for Islamic extremists.”
Perry stood by his remarks, arguing that “this is a country that’s got some explaining to do to the United States.”
“Americans are ready for some strong language and some strong actions,” he said. “This president that we’ve got today has such a muddled foreign policy. I mean, I think one of the reasons why you see the Middle East in such an uproar is because America is not injecting itself and we’re not putting our interests – and, for that matter, the interests of the American people – into these countries.”
“So, I don’t have a problem at all with what I said, and I think, you know, Turkey’s got to decide whether they want to be a country that projects those Western values that America is all about,” he said.