STILL smarting over Emmanuel Macron’s remarks made last month about Islamic ‘separatism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has doubled down on his dispute with the French President.
He said at an Istanbul press conference at the weekend:
Macron and France are going through a very dangerous period actually. My hope is that France gets rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible.
Surprising for an Islamic leader, he stopped short of offering a bounty and a bunch of celestial virgins for the disposal of France’s “burden.”
Sputnik reported that relations between the two countries have drastically deteriorated in recent months over Macron’s comments on Islam and controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by Charlie Hebdo, which also lampooned Erdoğan.
Over the years, Turkey and France have disagreed on a number of geopolitical issues; however, the discord has turned into a bitter feud in recent months.
At the beginning of October, Macron announced a plan to fight “Islamist separatism”. In an emotional speech, he said France, which has the largest Muslim minority population in Europe, faces a danger from Islamist separatism. The latter, he said, holds its laws above all others and often creates a “counter-society”. He added:
Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country.
Several days later, Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old school teacher, was beheaded in a Paris suburb by a Muslim immigrant. The perpetrator killed Paty because he had learned that the teacher had showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of speech.
The caricatures were published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and caused a wave of indignation in Muslim countries as well as triggered a series of terrorist attacks in France that left 17 people dead and dozens injured.
Macron strongly condemned the murder of Samuel Paty, which he described as a terrorist attack and called the teacher a hero. He told the 400 guests who attended Paty’s memorial service.
We will continue, teacher. We will defend the freedom that you taught so well. [France] will not give up our cartoons.
This statement caused a wave of indignation and large-scale protests in Muslim countries, with demonstrators accusing Paris of attempting to repress Islam. Turkey was among several countries that urged for a boycott of French products, while Erdoğan advised Macron to get “mental checks”.
What is the problem of this person called Macron with Islam and Muslims?. 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? Macron needs treatment on a mental level.
Paris described Erdoğan’s statement as unacceptable and recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations. Macron later clarified his position. The French head of state said he personally does not support the caricatures and understands why they caused shock in the Muslim world.
When I decided to attack radical Islam … my words were distorted. By the Muslim Brotherhood, quite widely, but also by Turkey, which has the ability to influence a lot of public opinion, including in sub-Saharan Africa. I am not attacking Islam, I am attacking Islamist terrorism.
The rift between the two countries has been exacerbated by the fact that Paris and Ankara hold diametrically opposed views on a number of issues. They back different sides in Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, and Turkey’s territorial dispute with Greece and Cyprus.
Erdoğan’s absence of a sense of humour has been known for years.
Four years ago, The Guardian reported that he’d picked a fight with Germany over the performance on the German state broadcaster ZDF by comedian Jan Böhmermann, above, who sat in front of a Turkish flag beneath a small, framed portrait of Erdoğan, reading out a poem that accuses the Turkish president of, among other things.
Repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians while watching child porn.
This blew up into what became known as the Erdogate Affair.
Responding to demands by Turkey that Böhmermann be punished, Germany’s State Prosecutor began investigating the comedian for violating the little-used paragraph 103 of the criminal code, which forbids taking the piss out of representatives of foreign states. At worst the comedian was facing a prison sentence of up to three years but he escaped with a ban,
In 2016, a German court banned him from repeating parts of the “obscene poem”. The court in Hamburg ruled that Jan Boehmermann’s poem was satire, but said the sexual references were “unacceptable.”
In the midst of the kerfuffle, Douglas Murray of The Spectator ran a competition for offensive poems about Erdoğan, promising £1,000 as first prize.
The winner was a certain Boris Johnson, who is “one-eighth Turkish.” The Conservative MP and former Mayor of London who later became Prime Minister, wrote:
There was a young fellow from Ankara
Who was a terrific wankerer.
Till he sowed his wild oats
With the help of a goat
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.