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France condemns Erdogan over ‘violence’, threatens sanctions on Turkey

November 5, 2020 at 4:18 pm

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Samsun, Turkey on 1 November 2020 [Metin Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

France has condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over alleged “declarations of violence” and has threatened sanctions against Turkey, amid increased tensions between the two states.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the comments in an interview with French radio station Europe 1, claiming: “There are now declarations of violence, even hatred, which are regularly posted by President Erdogan which are unacceptable.”

Following a campaign launched last month by President Emmanuel Macron against “Islamist separatism”, the government set about shutting down some Muslim organisations, businesses, and even cafes within the country. One of those organisations were the largest French Muslim NGO BarakaCity which was dissolved a week ago, prompting its founder to seek asylum in Turkey.

Macron also refused to condemn disrespectful cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), stating that France will not give up making the caricatures based on freedom of expression. In response, Erdogan said that Macron suffers from mental health issues, leading to France pulling out its ambassador from Turkey.

France is curbing freedom in the name of freedom

Le Drian stressed: “It is not only France that is targeted, there is a total European solidarity on the subject – we want Turkey to renounce this logic.” Turkey’s continued condemnation of Macron and the French government’s actions, he warned, could result in sanctions. “There are means of pressure, there is an agenda of possible sanctions.”

As a result of France’s crackdown on its Muslim community and Macron’s acceptance of the inflammatory cartoons, a boycott of French products, brands, and businesses throughout Muslim-majority countries has been enforced by non-governmental entities. While the boycott has been in force by those entities in countries such as Kuwait and Qatar, Erdogan has been vocal in his support for the boycott, officially calling for it to be implemented in Turkey.

Macron has been adamant that his government is not targeting Islam itself, but radical and political elements of it that alleged threaten French secular values. In a letter to the editor of the British newspaper the Financial Times yesterday, Macron insisted that he is against “Islamist separatism, never Islam.”

He aimed to correct an article by the paper which he claimed had misquoted him as “stigmatising French Muslims for electoral purposes and of fostering a climate of fear and suspicion towards them.” He firmly stated that “I will not allow anybody to claim that France, or its government, is fostering racism against Muslims.”

Macron’s incitement: ‘Crisis in Islam’ or French politics?