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Turkey blasts Charlie Hebdo’s ‘immoral’ caricature of Erdogan

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Turkish officials on Wednesday railed against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over its cover-page cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accused it of sowing “the seeds of hatred and animosity”.

Turkish anger at the caricature added fuel to a row between Turkey and France about the magazine’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, which flared after a French teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded outside his school in a Paris suburb earlier this month after he had shown pupils the cartoons in a lesson on freedom of speech.

“We strongly condemn the publication concerning our President in the French magazine which has no respect for any belief, sacredness and values,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.

“They are just showing their own vulgarity and immorality. An attack on personal rights is not humour and freedom expression,” he said.

The cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo showed Erdogan sitting in a white T-shirt and underpants and holding a canned drink, along with a woman wearing an Islamic hijab.

“I condemn this incorrigible French rag’s immoral publication concerning our president,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter. “I call on the moral and conscientious international community to speak out against this disgrace.”

Boycott and mental health check calls

Tensions between the two countries increased over the weekend when Erdogan said French President Emmanuel Macron needed a mental health check, prompting France to recall its ambassador from Ankara.

Erdogan has led calls for a boycott of French products. France, in turn, has called on its EU allies to take measures against Turkey following the boycott call.

On Tuesday, the European Commission warned that Erdogan’s comments make Turkey’s stalled bid to join the EU an even more distant prospect.

“Calls for a boycott of products of any member state are contrary to the spirit of these obligations and will take Turkey even further away from the European Union,” a spokesman said.

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.

At a summit earlier this month, EU member states agreed to review Turkey’s behaviour in December and threatened to impose sanctions if Erdogan’s “provocations” do not stop, a council statement said.

On Monday, EU spokesman Peter Stano said he would not rule out an urgent meeting of EU ministers at an earlier date following Erdogan’s comments and boycott calls.

“We clearly expect a change in action and declarations from the Turkish side,” Stano said at a news conference. He said there would be many discussions “to see whether we are going to continue to wait or take action earlier”.

The Prophet Mohammed cartoons, considered blasphemous by Muslims, have been displayed in France in solidarity and Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs from subverting French values, angering many Muslims.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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