Speaking the Nations Mind

Reject French Labelled-Products, Turkey Govt Urges Citizens

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Turks to boycott French goods amid a row over France’s tougher stance on radical Islam.

In a televised speech, he urged world leaders to protect Muslims “if there is oppression against Muslims in France”.

Mr Erdogan has angrily criticised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron for pledging to defend secular values.

It comes after a French teacher was murdered for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

France “will not give up our cartoons”, President Macron said earlier this week.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam, and are offensive to many Muslims.

But state secularism – or laïcité – is central to France’s national identity. Curbing freedom of expression to protect the feelings of one particular community undermines unity, the state says.

Mr Erdogan called for the boycott in a televised speech on Monday.

“Never give credit to French-labelled goods, don’t buy them,” he said in the capital Ankara.

He said Muslims are now “subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II”, adding that “European leaders should tell the French president to stop his hate campaign”.

It came after Mr Macron pledged to defend secularism and tackle radical Islam in the wake of the killing of Samuel Paty. The teacher was beheaded on 16 October by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov.

Two weeks before the attack, Mr Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and announced new measures to tackle what he called “Islamist separatism”.

France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, and some accuse the authorities of using secularism to target them.

Turkey is not the only country to criticise Mr Macron’s comments. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the French president of “attacking Islam” in a tweet on Sunday, while French products have been removed from some shops in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar. There have also been protests in Libya, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

But Germany has expressed “solidarity” with Mr Macron after the Turkish president’s statement.

“They are defamatory comments that are completely unacceptable, particularly against the backdrop of the horrific murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist fanatic,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

And in a tweet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands “stands firmly with France and for the collective values of the European Union” after Mr Erdogan’s speech.

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