PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday accused Turkey of “trying to stir up hatred” against France, continuing a war of words between the two NATO allies over the ‘Islam.
France on Saturday said it was recalling its envoy to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed a mental health check.
Erdogan accused Macron of having a “problem” with Islam and with Muslims for defending the right to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad – an act for which a French schoolteacher was murdered last week.
Le Drian criticized the “insults” against Macron, calling them “unacceptable conduct” on the part of an ally.
Ankara’s “hateful and slanderous propaganda against France” revealed a desire to “stir up hatred against us and among us,” he added.
He also reiterated France’s disappointment at Turkey’s inability to condemn the gruesome murder of Professor Samuel Paty or to express solidarity with France following the attack.
Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a free speech class.
The attack caused a deep shock in France, coming five years after a jihadist massacre in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which first published the cartoons considered by many Muslims to be offensive.
Macron hailed Paty as a “silent hero” who defended France’s secular values and swore the country “would not give up our cartoons,” infuriating Erdogan.
“What can we say about a head of state who treats millions of members of different faith groups like this: First, have mental controls,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.
“Macron needs mental treatment,” he added.
France and Turkey disagree on a range of issues, including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Erdogan has frequently targeted Macron, calling him a “dead brain” last year after the French leader used the term to describe the state of NATO.