Turkey condemns French caricature of Erdogan

Last week the Taliban warned Turkey against those plans to keep some troops in Afghanistan to run the airport, calling the strategy reprehensible and warning of consequences. (Picture credit: Onlne)

ISTANBUL: Turkey said it will take legal and diplomatic steps in response to a caricature of President Tayyip Erdogan in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Turkish anger at the caricature added fuel to a row between Turkey and France about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) which flared after a teacher who had shown pupils the cartoons in a lesson on freedom of speech was beheaded in France this month.

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

“Our people should have no doubt that all necessary legal and diplomatic steps will be taken against the caricature in question,” Turkey’s Communications Directorate said. “Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end with reason but determination,” it said in a statement.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul told reporters in Ankara that Turkish authorities had taken all necessary initiatives with the relevant authorities. State media also reported that Turkish prosecutors had launched an investigation into Charlie Hebdo’s executives.

Top Turkish officials had condemned the caricature, with presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin saying it had no respect for “any belief, sacredness and values” and showed “their own vulgarity and immorality. He said the caricature could not be considered freedom of expression.

Turkish presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said “Macron’s anti-Muslim agenda is bearing fruit!”.  “We condemn this most disgusting effort by this publication to spread its cultural racism and hatred,” he wrote on Twitter. The Turkish foreign ministry summoned the charge d’affaires at the French embassy over the magazine cover.

Erdogan said he had not seen the caricature “because I consider it wrong to even look at these immoral publications” and that his anger was over disrespect towards the Prophet (PBUH) rather than the “disgusting attack directed at me”.

The West was “once again headed to a period of barbarity”, he said, describing colonial powers as “murderers” for their record in Africa and the Middle East.

“They literally want to relaunch the Crusades. Since the Crusades, the seeds of evil and hatred have started falling on these (Muslim) lands and that’s when peace was disrupted.”

The French government, backed by many citizens, saw the Oct. 16 knife attack – in which a man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of the Prophet in a civics lesson – as an attack on freedom of speech.

Erdogan sharply criticised Macron at the weekend, saying the French leader needed a mental health check, prompting France to recall its ambassador from Ankara and urged a boycott of French products. Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values.

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