A senior American diplomat was about to make a speech about “shared values of tolerance and peace” at an event in eastern Romania to celebrate the birth of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, when she was interrupted by the Turkish consul and told to leave the stage.
The incident happened on Monday at an event organized by the head of the Muslim community in the Black Sea city of Constanta.
Video footage shows Abigail Rupp, the deputy chief of mission, being told by the Turkish consul in Constanta Sulhi Turan that she could not deliver her speech. Moments of confusion follow, then Rupp thanks the audience in Romanian for their hospitality and leaves the stage to applause.
The U.S. embassy called the incident “regrettable” that the Turkish government publicly objected to the role of a senior U.S. representative preventing her from “speaking at an event which celebrates the values of religious freedom and diversity which we share in Romania.”
The Turkish consul claimed Rupp had not been invited to speak but was contradicted by the leader of the local Muslim community. The U.S. embassy published Rupp’s undelivered remarks on its website.
“Tonight’s celebration is not only proof of Dobrogea’s living Muslim traditions but also a reminder about the importance of our shared values of hope, trust, tolerance, and peace, “ the speech read.
“It is in this spirit that the United States stands by the Muslim Tatar and Turkish communities of Romania as a partner and a friend. Above all, we want to deepen our mutual trust, understanding, and collaboration.”
Mufti Murat Yusuf told Info Sud-Est that “We are sorry about the way the Turkish state representatives behaved. The event was organized in Romania and we have good relations with the U.S.”
Government official for cults, Victor Opaschi also attended the event.
There an estimated 64,000 Muslims in Romania according to the last census in 2011, representing some 0.3 % of the population. Muslims have practiced in Romania for 700 years in the eastern Dobrogea region.
Here is the speech that deputy chief of mission Abigail Rupp was preparing to deliver.