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'Islamophobic' remarks by Tokyo governor spark anger in Turkey

May 1, 2013 at 12:40 PM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 1 (UPI) -- Turkish officials have been angered by what they consider Islamophobic remarks by the governor of Tokyo over Istanbul's ability to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid are on a short list of cities vying to host the Games that year, Today's Zaman reported Tuesday.

Gov. Naoki Inose stirred criticism when he recently said the only thing Islamic countries have in common "is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes."

His comments were criticized as "very disturbing, Islamophobic and racist" by prominent Turkish writer and jurist Orhan Kemal Cengiz.

"His remarks are enough for Tokyo not be selected for the Olympics," Cengiz added.

Suat Kilic, Turkey's youth and sports minister, said Inose's statement was "unfair and disheartening" and not in compliance with Olympic values.

The governor's comments appear to break Olympic rules that prohibit candidate cities from commenting on rivals.

The International Olympic Committee is investigating Inose's comments, raising fears in Japan that its bid for the Games might be threatened.

The governor apologized for the comments on Tuesday.

The IOC is scheduled to announce in September which of the three cities will host the 2020 games.

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