France and Turkey are in an escalating diplomatic tussle after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said French President Emmanuel Macron had “lost his way” over his attitude towards Muslims. Turkey’s second insulting swipe at Mr Macron came as France continued to reel in the wake of the beheading murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class.
Turkish President Erdogan says French President Emmanuel Macron needs mental ‘treatment’ over response to beheading
“The person in charge of France has lost his way,” Mr Erdogan said on Sunday.
“He goes on about Erdogan while in bed and while awake. Look at yourself first and where you’re going. I said yesterday … he is a case, and he really must be examined.”
A day earlier Mr Erdogan said the French leader needed mental help for condoning the caricatures.
“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level,” Mr Erdogan said.
It comes as French authorities denounced Turkish “propaganda” against France that they said was aimed at fanning hate at home and abroad, and asked on Sunday that calls to boycott French products cease immediately.
France also announced it was recalling its ambassador in Ankara for consultations.
In a chain of back-and-forth communications, quickly rising temperatures and French concern over the ramifications of its policies on free expression, Mr 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 presidential 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 Mr Macron with a shoe stamped on his face.
Mr Macron’s office said on Saturday that Mr Erdogan’s policies were “dangerous”.
Diplomatic tensions rise after beheading of French teacher
France considers religious satire to be among the kinds of speech that fall under the freedom of expression, while many Muslims consider any perceived attack on their prophet as a grave offence.
On October 16, a teacher who had shown caricatures of Mohammed in class was beheaded near Paris by an 18-year old of Chechen origin.
The teacher’s gruesome slaying, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism, came as the French Government works on a planned law to fight “separatism,” notably Islamist radicals that Mr Macron claims have created a parallel universe countering French values.
“What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?” Mr Erdogan asked.
Turkey and France are both members of the NATO military alliance, but have been at odds over issues including Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Muslim nations weigh in
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted on Sunday that Mr 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 Mohammed” and said it would “continue to decry justification for blasphemy of any religion in the name of freedom of expression”.
Unlike Turkey, the organisation had earlier condemned the murder of the French teacher.