Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it is “a matter of honour” to stand against attacks on Prophet Muhammad in a parliamentary address to his governing party.
“Unfortunately, we are in a period when hostility to Islam and Muslims and disrespect for the prophet is spreading like cancer, especially among leaders in Europe,” he told his Justice and Development (AK) Party’s parliamentary group on Wednesday.
Erdogan noted that France, and Europe in general, deserved better than the vicious, provocative and hateful policies of French President Emmanuel Macron.
“We call on prudent Europeans to take action against this dangerous trend on behalf of themselves and their children for a bright future,” he said.
Earlier this month, Macron accused French Muslims of “separatism” and described Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world.”
“No Muslim can be a terrorist, nor can any terrorist be a Muslim. A terrorist is a black-hearted person and a bloody murderer who does not hesitate to kill innocent people to achieve his own goals, who can use every method to this end,” Erdogan said.
Tensions further escalated after Samuel Paty, a teacher at Bois-d’Aulne College in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was beheaded on October 16 by Abdullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old of Chechen origin, in retaliation for showing controversial cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad to his students during one of his classes on freedom of expression.
They were first published in 2006 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, sparking a wave of protests.
Macron paid tribute to Paty and said France would “not give up our cartoons.”
Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun shared Emile Zola’s famous “I accuse” letter, drawing a comparison between France’s anti-Semitic and unlawful jailing of Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus and France’s treatment of its Muslims.
Earlier this year, Hebdo republished its cartoons insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad that resulted in an attack on its office in 2015, leaving 12 people dead, including its cartoonists.
Several Arab countries as well as Turkey, Iran and Pakistan have censured Macron’s attitude toward Muslims and Islam.
While calls to boycott French products are circulating online in many countries, Erdogan has urged citizens “to never help French brands or buy them.”