world

Turkish leader backs boycott of French goods over cartoon row

4 Comments
By Christian Lowe and Tuvan Gumrukcu

Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan asked his compatriots to stop buying French goods on Monday in the latest expression of anger in the Muslim world over images being displayed in France of the Prophet Mohammad, which some Muslims consider blasphemous.

In Bangladesh on Monday, protesters unfurled placards with a caricature of French President Emmanuel Macron and the words:"Macron is the enemy of peace", while Pakistan summoned France's ambassador in Islamabad to issue a protest.

Erdogan, who has a history of fraught relations with Macron, said France was pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

"I am calling to all my citizens from here to never help French brands or buy them," Erdogan said.

He joined a chorus of voices elsewhere calling for a boycott. In Kuwait city, a supermarket had stripped its shelves of L'Oreal cosmetics and skincare products after the cooperative union to which it belongs decided to stop stocking French goods.

In Saudi Arabia, calls for a boycott of French supermarket chain Carrefour were trending on social media, though two stores Reuters visited in the Saudi capital on Monday seemed as busy as normal.

While the immediate commercial impact of the boycott calls was difficult to assess, French businesses operate in majority-Muslim markets around the world. In Turkey, French autos are among the highest selling cars.

Asked about the boycott calls, Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, the head of the main French employers' federation, said on RMC radio station: "Of course it's bad news for the firms that have a presence there."

Earlier, Erdogan had questioned the state of Macron's mental health, prompting Paris to recall its ambassador in Ankara.

"What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level," Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday.

The row has its roots in a knife attack outside a French school on Oct. 16 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 European Union 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.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

4 Comments
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The French should boycott Turkish goods until the Turkish leader comes to his senses. Or even longer, if they feel like it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What Turkish goods? It's a third world country getting driven into the ground by a religious zealot.

I doubt the Turks will be giving up their Renault's, Dacia's or Peugeot's anytime soon unless they're going to buy trabants from Iran.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No more Turkish Delights !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Time to stop buying Uludaq drinks and buy more St.Dalfour jams. Support free speech by supporting France.

Turkey probably needs new leadership as the current guy Erdogan is destroying the good reputation Turkey had made for itself prior to him being elected.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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