France on Thursday condemned “declarations of violence” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and raised the possibility of new sanctions against Ankara.
Erdogan has been feuding bitterly with French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of geopolitical flashpoints and recently also France’s fight against radical Islam.
“There are now declarations of violence, even hatred, which are regularly posted by president Erdogan which are unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.
Turkey vowed Wednesday to “respond in the firmest way possible” to France’s ban of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves group linked to a top ally of Erdogan. “It is not only France that is targeted, there is a total European solidarity on the subject — we want Turkey to renounce this logic,” Le Drian said.
The European Council, he added, has already decided to take measures against the Turkish authorities, and “now it is important for the Turks to take the necessary measures to avoid this. “There are means of pressure, there is an agenda of possible sanctions.”
There are shades of grey.
(Sorry, there's more where that came from in @Turkeyrecap).
France today said it disbanded the "Grey Wolves", a Turkish ultra-nationalist group. Now Turkey MFA says "will respond in the firmest way possible to this decision." https://t.co/FNwseudHlY
— Raziye Akkoç (@RazAkkoc) November 4, 2020
Turkey and France have been at loggerheads on the conflicts in Syria and Libia as well as a scramble for natural gas in the Mediterranean and more recently on Macron’s vow to uphold secular values, including the right to mock Islam and other religions, as part of a battle against extremism.
Erdogan has recently called for a boycott of French products, accusing Macron of islamophobia and advising the French leader to get “mental checks”.
France fighting Islamist extremism, not Islam
French President Emmanuel Macron has said his country is fighting “Islamist separatism, never Islam”, responding to a Financial Times article that he claimed misquoted him and has since been removed from the newspaper’s website.
In a letter to the editor published Wednesday, Macron said the British paper had accused him of “stigmatizing French Muslims for electoral purposes and of fostering a climate of fear and suspicion towards them”.
“I will not allow anybody to claim that France, or its government, is fostering racism against Muslims,” he said.
An opinion article written by a Financial Times correspondent published Tuesday alleged that Macron’s condemnation of “Islamic separatism” risked fostering a “hostile environment” for French Muslims.
President Emmanuel Macron sought to calm flaring tensions with Muslims around the world, telling an Arab TV channel he understood that caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed could be shocking while lashing out at “lies” that the French state was behind them.
France is on edge after the republication in early September of cartoons of the prophet by the Charlie Hebdo weekly, which was followed by an attack outside its former offices, the beheading of a teacher and an attack on a church in Nice Thursday that left three dead.
Macron sparked protests across the Muslim world after the murder earlier this month of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his class a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, by saying France would never renounce its laws permitting blasphemous caricatures.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk