Posted in: Monday 26 October 2020 – 7:00 AM | Last update: Monday 26 October 2020 – 7:00 am
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “the calls for a boycott are absurd and must stop immediately, as should all attacks on our country that are behind a radical extremist minority.”
French President Emmanuel Macron published a tweet on the social networking site Twitter in Arabic, expressing his adherence to rejecting “hate speech” and his acceptance of “peaceful speech.”
France had summoned its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insulted his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
France called on Erdogan to change his policy because it is “dangerous”.
Erdogan said that Macron needs a mental health examination after pledging to support the continued publication of cartoons that were deemed offensive to the Prophet Muhammad throughout the Islamic world, as part of what the French president considers defending secular values and fighting extremist Islam.
Macron has spoken out forcefully on the issues after a French teacher was murdered for showing offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom.
He said earlier this week that France “will not abandon our cartoons.”
State secularism is fundamental to the French national identity. The state argues that restricting freedom of expression to protect the sentiments of a particular community undermines the country’s unity.
In response to Macron’s campaign to defend such values, which began before the teacher was murdered, Erdogan asked in a speech: “What is the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with Muslims?”
He added, “Macron needs mental treatment.”
“What else can be said of a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and is behaving in this way towards the millions of people living in his country who belong to a different religion?”
In the wake of these statements, a French presidential official told AFP that the French ambassador to Turkey had been summoned for consultations, and that he would meet Macron.
The official was quoted as saying that “President Erdogan’s statements are not acceptable. Excessive rudeness is not a means. We demand Erdogan to change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in all respects.”
Erdogan is a devout Muslim who has sought Islam to have a role in Turkish politics, which has prevailed since the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.
The diplomatic row is the latest development in tense relations between France and Turkey, both of which are members of NATO, but disagree on a range of geopolitical issues, including the wars in Syria and Libya, and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.
Seven people, including two students, were charged with beheading French teacher Samuel Patty on October 16 near Paris. His killer, Abdullah Anzurov, 18, was shot dead by police shortly after the attack, which took place near the school where Patti was studying.
In 2010, 12 people were killed in an attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The magazine was targeted by extremists for publishing cartoons that Muslims and Islamic organizations around the world saw offensive to the Prophet Muhammad.
Earlier this month, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and announced plans for stricter laws to counter what he called “Islamic separatism” in France.
He said that a minority of France’s estimated six million Muslims are in danger of forming a “counter-society”.
Some in Western Europe’s largest Muslim community have accused Macron of trying to suppress their religion and say his campaign risks legitimizing Islamophobia.
How well are the boycott calls?
Some supermarket shelves have been stripped of French products in Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait.
In Kuwait, a large retail consortium ordered a boycott of French goods.
The non-governmental Federation of Consumer Cooperatives said it issued the directive in response to the “repeated insults” of the Prophet Muhammad.
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “these calls for a boycott are baseless and must stop immediately, as well as all attacks on our country that are paid by an extremist minority.”
On the Internet, calls for a boycott circulated in other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia.
The hashtag calling for a boycott of the French chain “Carrefour” was the second most popular topic in Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Arab world.
Meanwhile, small anti-French protests were held in Libya, Gaza and northern Syria.
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