VIENNA, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a speech in Vienna, described Zionism as "a crime against humanity,"
"We should be striving to better understand the culture and beliefs of others but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despise them," The Times of Israel quoted Erdogan saying, citing a simultaneous translation provided by the United Nations.
"And that is why it is necessary that we must consider -- just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism -- Islamophobia as a crime against humanity," he said.
Erdogan spoke Wednesday at the official opening of the fifth U.N. Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum in Austria.
U.N. Watch, a group that monitors anti-Israel bias and human rights abuses, issued a statement slamming Erdogan and chided U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for remaining silent through the accusations.
"Erdogan's misuse of this global podium to incite hatred and his resort to (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world, will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its 4-year-old feud with Israel," U.N. Watch said.
Referring to the fact that Ban was at the forum and failed to address Erdogan's comments, the group said, "We remind Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the U.N.'s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he welcomed its repeal."