President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday that his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needs “mental treatment” because of his hostility toward Islam.
“What is Macron’s problem with Islam and Muslims? He needs mental health treatment,” Erdoğan said at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) congress in central Kayseri province.
“What can be said to a head of state that treats millions of members of a religious minority in his country this way? First of all, (he needs) mental check,” Erdoğan added.
France recently launched an extensive witch hunt against the Muslim community following Macron calling Islam a problematic religion that needs to be contained. Many nongovernmental organizations and mosques have been shut down in the last two weeks, while assaults against Muslims have peaked.
In response, a French presidential official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Paris was recalling its envoy to Ankara for consultations. Ambassador Herve Magro would meet Macron to discuss the situation, the official said.
"President Erdoğan's comments are unacceptable. Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand that Erdoğan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in every respect," the official said.
The Elysee official, who asked not to be named, also said that France had noted "the absence of messages of condolence and support" from the Turkish president after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris. Paty was murdered after showing his class cartoons portraying Prophet Muhammad, which is regarded as highly offensive by Muslims.
The official also expressed concern over calls by Ankara for a boycott of French goods.
Macron this month described Islam as a religion "in crisis" worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France. He announced stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques.
But the debate over the role of Islam in France has hit a new intensity after the beheading of Paty, which prosecutors say was carried out by an 18-year-old Chechen who had contact with a terrorist in Syria.
"You are constantly picking on Erdoğan. This will not earn you anything," said Erdoğan said other remarks.
"There will be elections (in France) ... We will see your (Macron's) fate. I don't think he has a long way to go. Why? He has not achieved anything for France and he should do for himself."
The two NATO allies are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey is strongly backing Azerbaijan in the conflict but has denied allegations by Macron that Ankara has sent Syrian militia fighters to help Azerbaijan.
Erdoğan on Saturday accused France, which along with Russia and the United States co-chairs the Minsk Group tasked with resolving the conflict, of "being behind the disasters and the occupations in Azerbaijan."
He also repeated previous claims that France, which has a strong Armenian community, is arming Yerevan. "You think you will restore peace with the arms you are sending to Armenians. You cannot because you are not honest."
Erdoğan also accused the German police of “fascism” over the recent police raid on a Berlin mosque.
“European fascism reaches a new level with such attacks on their own citizens,” he said.
German police on Wednesday stormed the Mevlana Mosque and several other establishments in Berlin as part of an investigation into a coronavirus subsidy fraud, Turkey's German-language public broadcaster TRT Deutsch reported Thursday. Turkish officials strongly condemned the event, calling it an “ugly act,” disregarding the sanctity of a place of worship.
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