According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Turkish President Erdogan called on Turkish people to boycott French goods because the French government has recently taken a tougher stance on religious extremism.
In a televised speech, Erdogan stated that “if France has oppression against Muslims,” world leaders should protect Muslims.
The dispute between Erdogan and Macron originated from the brutal beheading of a teacher in Paris on the 16th of this month. The victim, Patty, had previously shown caricatures satirizing the prophets of Islam and was attacked by suspected extremist religious elements. Macron characterised the case as an “Islamic terrorist attack”, emphasized that he “will not give up the tradition of caricatures”, and plans to increase efforts to de-radicalize domestically. Since the “Charlie Hebdo” terrorist attack occurred five years ago, the incident has once again detonated the controversy in France about secularism and Muslim fear.
Erdogan angrily criticized French President Macron for defending secularism and opposing religious extremism. He said: “Never trust French branded goods and do not buy.” He added that “European leaders should tell the French president to stop. His hatred movement”.
According to Reuters, citing reports from the Turkish statistical agency, France is Turkey’s tenth largest source of imports.
Two weeks before the attack, Macron described Islam as “a crisis facing the world” and announced new measures to deal with the so-called “Islamic separatism” in France. France is the country with the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. Some Muslims accuse the French authorities of using secularism to attack them.
Last weekend, in response to Macron’s remarks describing the risk of “counter-society” among approximately 6 million Muslims in France, Erdogan stated that Macron needs to undergo a mental health check. Erdogan’s remarks led to France’s announcement of the recall of its ambassador to Turkey.
According to reports, European leaders have stepped up to support France. After the Turkish President made the above remarks, Germany expressed its “ unitedness ” with Macron, and German government spokesman Steffen Seibert called Erdogan’s remarks “defamatory” and “completely unacceptable” of”.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that the Netherlands “stands firmly with France and supports the collective values of the European Union”, while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also stated that he and Macron ” Completely united together”. He wrote on Twitter: “Personal insults are not conducive to the positive agenda the EU hopes to reach with Turkey.”
But Turkey is not the only country criticizing Macron’s remarks. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the French president of “attacking Islam” on Twitter on Sunday, while at the same time, some stores in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar have removed French products. Protests also took place in many countries including Bangladesh, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
A few months before Erdogan called for a boycott of French products, tensions between France and Turkey escalated. Although these two countries are both NATO members, the two countries have supported different parties in the ongoing military conflicts in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the Libyan civil war.
Macron also clashed with Erdogan over Turkey’s exploration of disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean. In August this year, France deployed fighter jets and frigates in the area to deal with tensions. In January of this year, Macron also accused the Turkish President of breaking his promise not to intervene in the conflict in Libya.