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Erdogan Vows Action over 'Disgusting' Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Erdogan Vows Action over 'Disgusting' Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Wednesday, 28 October, 2020 - 18:30
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, October 28, 2020. (AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vented his outrage Wednesday against "scoundrels" at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which mocked him in a front-cover cartoon as tensions flare between Ankara and Paris.

His office vowed to take "legal and diplomatic action" over the caricature of the 66-year-old leader.

The cartoon stoked fury in Turkish political circles and added to a sense of crisis enveloping Turkey's deteriorating relations with France.

Its publication came out just days after Erdogan called for a boycott of French products and questioned President Emmanuel Macron's sanity for promoting a drive against radical Islam.

Macron's accompanying defense of the media's right to mock religion has stirred angry protests across Turkey and swathes of the Muslim world.

Erdogan said he had not personally seen the Charlie Hebdo drawing because he did not want to "give credit to such immoral publications."

"I don't need to say anything to those scoundrels who insult my beloved prophet on such a scale," Erdogan said in a speech to his party's lawmakers.

"I am sad and frustrated not because of this disgusting attack on me personally, but because of the impertinence taking aim at our prophet we love more than ourselves."

'Vicious and ugly'

While officially secular, Turkey is a mostly Muslim country that has taken a more conservative and nationalist course under Erdogan's rule.

His policies have put Turkey at growing odds with Macron, who has become one of Erdogan's most vocal critics in a series of disputes with the EU in the past years.

The two leaders have sparred over Turkey's push into the eastern Mediterranean as well as its policies in Syria and Libya, and more recently over its involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

France's European Affairs Minister said Wednesday that Paris would "push for strong European responses, which include sanctions" over Erdogan's series of "provocations."

Ankara prosecutors, meanwhile, said they were launching an investigation into Charlie Hebdo for "insulting the head of state."

The cartoon was published in the midst of an emotional debate over France's broader policy toward Muslims.

That conversation has been lent urgency by the murder near Paris last week of a teacher who showed his class offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed previously published by Charlie Hebdo.

Images of the prophet are strictly forbidden in Islam.

Macron's defense of the drawings saw tens of thousands march Tuesday through the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, and protesters burned pictures of Macron and French flags in Syria.

Smaller protests returned to Dhaka on Wednesday and also hit the Indian city Mumbai and parts of the Gaza Strip.

"If the statesmen of Europe want peace and stability in their countries, they must honor the dignity of Muslims, respecting their values," protester Ozgur Bursali said at a rally outside the French embassy in Ankara.

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