Erdogan Urges Turks to Boycott French Goods Due to Macron's 'anti-Islam' Agenda

Turkish leader says French president needs a mental health check, repeating rebuke that caused Paris to recall its ambassador from Ankara this weekend

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Turkey's President Recep Erdogan speaks during a meeting, in Ankara, Turkey, September 1, 2020.
Turkey's President Recep Erdogan speaks during a meeting, in Ankara, Turkey, September 1, 2020.Credit: ,AP

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Monday for Turks to boycott French goods and urged European Union leaders to halt French leader Emmanuel Macron's "anti-Islam" agenda.

For a third day running Erdogan said that the French president needed a mental health check, repeating a rebuke that caused to over the weekend, as he appealed to Turks to shun French products.

"Just like they say 'Don't buy good with Turkish brands' in France, I am calling to all my citizens from here to never help French brands or buy them," said.

France is the 10th biggest source of imports into Turkey and the seventh biggest market for Turkey's exports, according to Turkey's statistical institute. Among major French imports, French autos are among the highest selling cars in Turkey.

Shares in the Turkish unit of French-American telecoms equipment company Alcatel Lucent were down 10% on the Istanbul stock exchange after Erdogan's comments.

"European leaders with foresight and morals must break down the walls of fear," Erdogan said in a speech at the start of a week of activities in to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad.

"They must put an end to the agenda and hate campaign that is leading."

Macron has pledged to fight "Islamist separatism", saying it was threatening to take over some Muslim communities in France. The country has since been shaken by the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist militant, avenging the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.

Turkey and France are both members of the NATO military alliance, but have been at odds over issues including Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The row has its roots in a in which an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of Mohammad in a civics lesson on freedom of speech.

The cartoons had initially appeared years ago in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose Paris editorial office was attacked in 2015 by gunmen who killed 12 people. French officials called the beheading an attack on core French values.

Since the beheading, the caricatures were projected onto the facade of a building in one city and people displayed them at protests around the country. Macron said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values.

In response to the expressions of anger from parts of the Muslim world, France has stood firm. In a Tweet on Sunday, Macron said France respected all differences in a spirit of peace but he also said: "We will not give in, ever."

France's Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued at the weekend that the criticism of France was being driven by a radical minority and urged foreign governments to dissociate themselves from boycott calls.

Several of France's partners in the rallied round on Monday. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described Erdogan's personal attacks on Macron as a new low. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Erdogan's words about Macron were unacceptable.

"The Netherlands stands firmly with France and for the collective values of the European Union. For the freedom of speech and against extremism and radicalism," Rutte wrote in a post on Twitter.

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