Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his hope that France would rid itself of President Emmanuel Macron, saying that he is a burden on France and its politics.
Speaking to reporters on Friday following congregational prayers, Erdogan said: "Macron is a burden on France. Macron and France are going through a very dangerous period actually. My hope is that France gets rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible."
The Turkish president's comments come as relations between Ankara and Paris have been particularly strained in recent months, due to a campaign launched by Macron against "Islamist separatism" in October. Since that began, the French government set about shutting down Muslim organisations, businesses and even cafes within the country.
One of those organisations was the largest French Muslim NGO BarakaCity which was dissolved by the government, 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 its ambassador out of Turkey before later reinstating him.
Relations were further threatened by Erdogan's urging of Turkish citizens to boycott French products and businesses, as many in Arab civil society groups had also done in response to France's treatment of its Muslims and their religious sensitivities.
Macron responded to Erdogan's remarks over the weekend, telling reporters that he will not retaliate and called for respect. "I think our societies are becoming more violent, and they're that way because leaders are setting an example of violence," he said. "I think a verbal spat between political leaders is not the right way to proceed."
Despite the backlash against his recent policies and his calls for respect, Macron's government has most recently decided to conduct an investigation into almost 80 mosques throughout the country, in an effort to monitor, control and surveil the mosques for any sign of "separatism". Some of those mosques, it announced, may be closed down and dozens have already been registered for immediate action.