Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again attacked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, whose recent comments on Islam have sparked criticism, protests and even calls to boycott French products in the Muslim world.
The Turkish president again questioned the sanity of Mr. Macron, repeating in substance his remarks of the day before. “All that can be said of a head of state who treats millions of members of different religious communities in this way is: ‘go for mental health examinations first'”, he said. said Saturday in a televised speech.
Mr. Erdogan had already denounced as a provocation two weeks ago the declarations of Mr. Macron on “Islamist separatism” and the need to “structure Islam” in France, while the French executive presented his future project of law on this topic.
The Turkish leader has also criticized, since this weekend, his French counterpart for having promised that France would continue to defend the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. On Wednesday, Mr. Macron was speaking at the tribute ceremony for Samuel Paty, a professor beheaded in an Islamist attack for showing the drawings in class.
This promise by the French head of state has triggered a flood of criticism in many Muslim-majority countries, from political and religious leaders, elected officials but also ordinary citizens.
In Libya, where Mr. Macron’s remarks were described as “provocative” on social networks, a demonstration took place on Sunday in the great Place des Martyrs, in downtown Tripoli, after a call on the Internet.
Small groups have already protested in several cities on Saturday, holding up signs with the hashtag “Everything except the prophet”, “the prophet is a red line” as well as portraits of the French president crossed out with a red cross.
On the French side, the Foreign Ministry on Sunday called on the governments of the countries concerned to “stop” calls to boycott French products and to demonstrate, describing them as coming from a “radical minority”. In the same statement, he asks them to “ensure the safety” of the French living on their soil.
Burnt flags and photos
It was also Saturday that around 200 people gathered in the evening outside the residence of the French Ambassador to Israel. And, in the Gaza Strip, demonstrators burned photos of the French president.
In the Tunisian locality of El Kamour, at the gateway to the Sahara, an anti-France parade gathered a few dozen people on Sunday, according to images released by a local collective. As in other countries, calls to boycott French products have spread on social networks. But other Tunisian netizens criticized the means used to defend the prophet, mocked boycott attempts, and defended freedom of expression.
Also in the Maghreb, the leader of the Algerian Islamist party Front de la justice et du développement (FJD), Abdallah Djaballah, called for a boycott of French products and called for the summons of the French ambassador.
In the Middle East, a symbolic call for a boycott also took place in Bab al-Hawa, a border crossing point in northwestern Syria, in rebel hands and where few French products reach.
Demonstrations were organized “in various regions beyond the control of the regime” of Damascus, also told AFP Rami Abdel Rahmane, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, specifying that portraits of Mr. Macron had been burned.
In neighboring Jordan, Islamic Affairs Minister Mohammed al-Khalayleh said “offending” the prophets was “not a matter of personal freedom but a crime that encourages violence.”
In Lebanon, the demonstration planned in front of the French embassy on Sunday attracted no one – like the day before – apart from dozens of soldiers and riot control forces.
The powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, meanwhile, condemned “strongly the deliberate insult” made to the prophet, expressing in a statement its “rejection of the persistent French position of encouraging this dangerous affront”.
In Kuwait, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, “met” the French Ambassador, Anne-Claire Legendre.
“They spoke of the heinous crime suffered by a French teacher,” a Kuwaiti statement said on Sunday, adding that the minister had also underlined “the importance of putting an end to attacks on monotheistic religions and prophets in certain official speeches […] likely to exacerbate hatred ”.
In Iraq, Rabaa Allah, the latest of the pro-Iran armed factions – and the most powerful – said he was ready to “respond”, without further details, after what she described as “an insult to a billion and a half of people ”.
Pro-Iranians in Iraq recently torched a television station for insulting Islam and the headquarters of a Kurdish party in Baghdad.
In Pakistan, finally, Prime Minister Imran Khan also reacted on Sunday by accusing Emmanuel Macron of “attacking Islam”. He “could have played appeasement […] rather than creating additional polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization, ”he posted on Twitter.