President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said an attack on Turkey’s economy was no different from a strike against its flag or call to prayer, responding to a recent currency sell-off in religious and nationalist terms ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
In a pre-recorded address to mark the four-day Eid al-Adha festival, which starts on Tuesday, a defiant Erdogan said the aim of the currency crisis was to bring “Turkey and its people to their knees”.
The lira has tumbled some 40 percent this year, hit by worries about Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and a worsening diplomatic rift with the United States. The sell-off has spread to other emerging market currencies and global stocks in recent weeks.
“The attack on our economy has absolutely no difference from attacks on our call to prayer and our flag. The goal is the same. The goal is to bring Turkey and the Turkish people to their knees, to take it prisoner,” Erdogan said in the televised address.
“Those who think they can make Turkey give in with the exchange rate will soon see that they are mistaken,” he said.
Erdogan stopped short of directly naming any countries or institutions, but he has, in the past, blamed the currency sell-off on a shadowy “interest rate lobby”, Western ratings agencies and financiers.
Amid the period of tense relations between Ankara and Washington, several gunshots were fired on Monday from a vehicle at the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital, causing no casualties.
A Turkish court on Friday rejected an American poster’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from President Donald Trump, who said the United States would not take the detention of the pastor, Andrew Brunson, “sitting down”.
The case of Brunson, an evangelical Christian missionary from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for two decades, has become a flashpoint between Washington and Ankara.
The lira weakened to 6.0900 to the dollar at 0843 GMT, from a close of 6.0100 on Friday.
On Friday two ratings agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, further cut Turkey’s sovereign rating into junk territory