In the second time in two days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed French President Emmanuel Macron for his condemnation of Islam and radical Muslims following the beheading of a teacher in France who showed Mohammed caricatures to his class.
“The person in charge of France has lost his way,” Erdogan said on Monday, following up on his remarks on Sunday that Macron needs mental health treatment. “He goes on about Erdogan while in bed and while awake. Look at yourself first and where you’re going. I said yesterday in Kayseri, he is a case and he really must be examined.”
France recalled its ambassador to France following Erdogan’s statements on Sunday.
Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, said that European condemnation of Muslims is reminiscent of how the Jews in Europe were treated in the 1920s, adding that “offensive caricatures” of the Prophet Mohammed are being used to intimidate Muslims in Europe, according to an AFP report.
“The dog-whistle politics of offensive caricatures, accusations of separatism against Muslims, and mosque raids isn’t about freedom of expression,” Altun said. “It’s about intimidating and reminding Muslims that they are welcome to keep the European economy going, but they will never belong — against the backdrop of lectures about integration.”
Muslim-majority countries, including Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar are calling for a boycott of French products for “insulting” Mohammed, with many stores in Muslim countries already having removed French products from their shelves.
Some Muslim countries such as Kuwait responded to the pressures and boycott that France imposed on French Muslims these days by removing French products from their supermarket shelves. A great example to follow for Djibouti which in turn depends on this products. pic.twitter.com/mvcMOTUQJQ
— The Great Djibouti (@greatdjibouti) October 23, 2020
מוסלמים ברחבי העולם וברשתות החברתיות יצאו בקמפיין להחרמת מוצרים צרפתיים, לאור עמדת הנשיא עמנואל מקרון בעניין הקריקטורות הלועגות לנביא מוחמד ועמידתו נגד האסלאם הקיצוני, לאחר רצח המורה סמואל פאטי בשבוע שעבר@HaimOmri pic.twitter.com/1OUMG2GTn4
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) October 24, 2020
Macron tweeted on Sunday night, in English and Arabic, “We will not give in, ever.” But he also affirmed, “We respect all difference in a spirit of peace.”
Another Macron tweet said in bold print “We are ONE.” In a recent count, the Arabic version had 28,000 comments – many of them insulting. They included pictures of Macron with a shoe stamped on his face.
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday evening that its diplomats were mobilizing to ask countries where boycotts were being organized or hate calls issued not to back them, and to provide assurances that French citizens would be safe.
“In numerous countries of the Middle East, calls to boycott French products…and more generally, calls to demonstrate against France, in sometimes hateful terms, have been relayed on social media,” the French Foreign Ministry said. It added that such calls “denature” France’s positions on freedom of expression and conscience.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and a bloc of Muslim nations condemned, without using insults, remarks by Macron last week in which he refused to condemn the publication or showing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted on Sunday that Macron chose “to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists” and “to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens.”
The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, on Friday condemned the “ongoing practice of running satirical caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad” and “will continue to decry justification for blasphemy of any religion in the name of freedom of expression.”
Unlike Turkey, the organization had earlier condemned the slaying of the French teacher. Samuel Paty, was beheaded while leaving school in a Paris suburb. The 18-year-old suspect in the killing, who had become radicalized, was shot to death by police.
The teacher’s gruesome slaying, which is being investigated as an act or terrorism, came as the French government works on a planned law to fight “separatism,” notably Islamist radicals that Macron claims have created a parallel universe countering French values.
“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Islam and Muslims?” Erdogan, a devout Muslim, asked rhetorically Saturday during his Justice and Development party meeting in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.
It was the latest episode in a string of increasingly bitter differences between Paris and Ankara that are fraying ties between the two NATO allies. Macron’s office said on Saturday that Erdogan’s policies are “dangerous.”
The French presidential office noted in its statement Saturday announcing the recall of its ambassador Turkey’s call for a boycott of French products. The move, if taken to heart, could add a layer of economic ramifications to the deepening diplomatic tussle.
Tensions between France and Turkey have intensified in recent months over issues that include the fighting in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)