Turkey sharply condemned a front page of the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” with a caricature of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun accused the magazine late Tuesday night of “cultural racism.”
The “so-called caricatures” are “repugnant” and devoid of human morals, one report says. “The anti-Muslim agenda of French President Emmanuel Macron is bearing fruit!” Wrote Altun.
The caricature on the cover of the Wednesday edition of “Charlie Hebdo”, which appeared online Tuesday evening, shows Erdogan in a white top and underpants sitting on an armchair. Holding a can in his hand, he lifts the robe of a veiled woman to reveal her bare bottom.
“Ohh! The Prophet!” Reads a speech bubble. The page is titled with the words, “Erdogan – privately he’s very funny”.
Crisis between Turkey and France
The mood between France and Turkey has been heated for days. The tensions were sparked by Macron’s comments on freedom of speech and Islam after the death of his teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an Islamist.
The French commemorate the murdered teacher Samuel Paty in Paris Photo: imago images / Le Pictorium
The French head of state had defended freedom of expression and the publication of caricatures several times – most recently at the memorial service for Paty. The teacher had shown cartoons of Muhammad in class as an example of freedom of speech. Especially devout Muslims reject a graphic representation of the Prophet and find it offensive, but it is not explicitly prohibited in the Quran
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Pakistan and several Arab governments criticized Macron’s position. Erdogan had called for a boycott of French goods and personally attacked Macron. He advised the French head of state to undergo a psychological examination, among other things.
Tens of thousands of Muslims are protesting in Bangladesh
Macron’s statements have driven more than 40,000 people into the streets in the Bengali capital Dhaka, according to police. The protesters called for a boycott of French goods and burned a photo of Macron. The protest was organized by Islami Andolan, one of the largest Islamist parties in the predominantly Muslim country. “Macron is one of the few leaders to worship Satan,” party representative Ataur Rahman said at the rally.
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On Tuesday, Paris responded with sharpened travel advice for the French. The State Department called for “avoiding all the fuss”. “Utmost vigilance” is also called for in tourist places in Turkey – the ministry of Bangladesh and Indonesia has issued similar warnings.
Protests in Pakistan against the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” Photo: REUTERS / Akhtar Soomro / File Photo
The US and the EU called for tensions between the two NATO partners to be eased. Washington did not comment on the Turkish president’s harsh criticism. “The US sincerely believes that internal conflict within the alliance only benefits our enemies,” said a State Department spokesman.
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The European Commission found clearer words against Erdogan. EU agreements with Turkey, such as a customs union, provide for free trade in goods, a spokesman said. “The call to boycott products from a Member State is against the spirit of these commitments.” They would remove Turkey, a candidate country for the EU, “even further from the European Union”.
Muslim council wants to sue Macron
The Council of Islamic Wise Men, which includes Muslim dignitaries from various countries, announced legal action against the French satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” and against “all who insult Islam” over the Mohammed cartoons. Freedom of expression must find its limits where religions become the plaything of political forces and “election campaign propaganda,” the council said.
Tehran also became involved in the conflict. The Iranian government has appointed a representative from the French embassy because of Macron’s statements, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. In the conversation, Tehran criticized France’s “push” to publish more Mohammed cartoons. The behavior of the French authorities is “unacceptable” and “hurts the feelings of millions of Muslims in Europe and the world”.
Macron also received objections from Muslims in his own country: the Muslim umbrella organization CFCM wrote on the online service Twitter that the freedom from caricatures was “not absolute”. In the service of law and order and fraternity in France, it must be “limited and brought into a reasonable relationship”. (AFP / dpa)