Turkey threatened legal and diplomatic measures against France after the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Officials described the cartoon as “disgusting, and seeks to spread a culture of racism and hatred.”
The drawing shows Erdogan in underwear, lying in a chair, and lifting the dress of a veiled woman from the back.
Turkish anger over the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad increased the intensity of the dispute between Turkey and France, and after a French teacher showed his students these drawings, in a lesson on freedom of expression in France this month, which led to his beheading.
Macron pledged to defend secularism after the teacher was killed. The government argued that state secularism was central to France’s national identity, and that restricting freedom of expression to protect the sentiments of a particular sect undermined unity.
Relations became further strained when President Erdoan said President Emmanuel Macron needed his brain scan due to a French crackdown on Muslims.
What did Erdogan say?
The Turkish president said he had “no need to comment” on the cartoon that Charlie Hebdo had published on its cover, adding that he had “not seen” it.
He added, “I heard that the magazine, which published ugly and crude caricatures of our Prophet, is now targeting me with a cartoon on its cover. It is not necessary to give credence to such immoral publications.”
Erdogan was speaking at a meeting with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group.
Charlie Hebdos cartoon comes amid anger in Turkey over the French President’s statements about Islam, as Erdogan called for a boycott of French goods.
Erdogan slammed Macron over the weekend, prompting France to recall its ambassador from Ankara for consultations.
What did Turkey say?
Vice President Fuad Aktay called on the international community to raise its voice against “this shame.”
“You cannot fool anyone by hiding behind freedom of thought,” he said on Twitter.
The Turkish Communications Directorate said that the country “will take the necessary legal and diplomatic steps against the caricature,” adding in a statement that “our battle against these rude and ill-intentioned people will continue until the end, but with reason.”
Justice Minister Abdul Hamid Gul told reporters in Ankara that the Turkish authorities had taken all necessary initiatives with the relevant authorities.
And state media reported that the Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation.
Senior Turkish officials condemned the cartoon, and the presidential spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, said that the drawing does not respect “any belief, sanctities or values,” and that it cannot be an expression of freedom of expression.
“Macron’s anti-Muslim agenda is bearing fruit. We condemn this disgusting act,” said Fakhreddin Altun, director of Turkish presidential communications, according to Reuters news agency.
In response to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, the Turkish pro-government satirical magazine Miswak published a number of cartoons criticizing Macron and Charlie Hebdo on its Twitter page.
Turkey was unsuccessful in a previous attempt four years ago to sue a German TV presenter who read a poem mocking Erdogan.
This is not the first time that Charlie Hebdo has caused controversy.
In 2015, 12 people were killed in an attack on the magazine’s offices in Paris. When it was targeted by Islamic militants for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
In the same year, the magazine was severely criticized by Russia for two cartoons depicting the crash of a plane in Sinai, which killed 224 people, most of them Russians.
And in 2016 a cartoon angered Italians, after it depicted victims of the Italian earthquake as spaghetti.
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