Macron also said Turkey is fueling misunderstandings around France’s defense of free speech, including the right to publish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which are prohibited in Islam.
At the beginning of October, Macron declared that “Islam is a religion in crisis all over the world today”.
Read more: Anti-French sentiment is growing in Muslim countries
Two weeks later, French high school teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by a Muslim teenager after showing his class a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad from the French satirical magazine. Charlie Hebdo.
Since then, Macron has fervently defended freedom of expression and denounced radical Islam – sparking outrage in many parts of the Muslim world.
“When I decided to attack radical Islam […] my words were distorted, “Macron told Jeune Afrique.” By the Muslim Brotherhood, quite widely, but also by Turkey, which has the capacity to influence a lot of public opinion, including in sub-Saharan Africa.
For his part, Turkish President Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Macron needed a “mental health check” to treat millions of Muslims in this way.
Pushing for influence in Libya
Political analyst Sinan Ulgen, chairman of Edam, an independent Istanbul-based think tank, said the Macron-Erdogan standoff was part of a wider and growing rivalry between France and Turkey over Africa.
“There is a different positioning at the regional level, France having established a strategic alliance with the United Arab Emirates, apparently to fight against the influence of political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. -he declares.
“Turkey is seen […] as belonging to the other camp, namely to support political Islam through its relations with the various entities and the Muslim Brotherhood, ”he said.
Read more: Turkey’s strategic game in Libya to help reap economic gains
Turkey and France support rival sides in the conflict in Libya. Turkey openly supports President Fayez Sarraj and his National Accord government in Tripoli. France supports the eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and his so-called Libyan National Army.
Retired Turkish Admiral Cem Gurdeniz said France needs to get used to Turkey’s growing role in Africa.
“Right now, in North Africa, there are two challengers in France: China and Turkey. [France] is used to thinking he’s the only rooster in the neighborhood, ”he says.
Turkey’s new interest in West Africa
Besides Libya, Turkey also challenges France’s powerful influence in the former French colonies in West Africa.
“Turkey, as a newcomer, emerging power, its interests and presence threaten French interests and vice versa,” said Emre Caliskan, a research collaborator on the project at the University of Oxford, referring to the visits from the Turkish Foreign Minister to Mali in September and Niger and Togo in July.
Mevlut Cavusoglu was the first non-African senior official to visit Mali since the coup in August.
Read more: France: a knife attack in a church in Nice kills three