Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly condemned the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon on him and has vowed to take “legal and diplomatic action” soon on Wednesday.

The magazine featured the cartoon of the President on its front page, depicting him looking up a woman’s skirt while drinking beer in his underpants, which Erdogan has dismissed as a “disgusting attack”.

The front-cover Charlie Hebdo cartoon 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 Islamic extremism.

“My sadness and anger is not because of this disgusting attack against me, but because the very same media is the source of impudence against our beloved prophet whom we hold so dear,” he told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in Parliament. Erdogan also claimed that he has not even looked at Charlie Hebdo caricature because he did not want to “give credit to such immoral publications.”

The West was “once again headed to a period of barbarity”, he said, describing colonial powers as “murderers” for their record in Africa and the Middle East.

“They literally want to relaunch the Crusades. Since the Crusades, the seeds of evil and hatred have started falling on these (Muslim) lands and that’s when peace was disrupted.”

French President Macron’s defense of the controversial caricatures under the rhetoric of freedom of expression came after the brutal murder on October 16 of a schoolteacher who had shown cartoons to pupils during a class discussion.

Frowns and discontent are coming over the matter from the Muslim world in the form of protests and rallies especially from Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan and Syria, who are also calling for ban against French products.

Tens of thousands marched Tuesday through the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday wrote to the leaders of Muslim countries calling on them to act together against Islamophobia, while a leading Kuwaiti supermarket chain said that most of its stores had stripped their shelves of French products.

In Syria, protesters burned pictures of Macron and French flags, while others rallied across the Indian city of Mumbai and parts of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

Under such circumstances, the French foreign ministry has resorted to its fellow European leaders and India to gather diplomatic support.

“We strongly deplore the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron in violation of the most basic standards of international discourse,” said a statement from the Indian foreign ministry.

Erdogan’s ideological stance have put Turkey at growing odds with the European Union and Macron has become one of Turkish leader’s most vocal critics.

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said that Paris would “push for strong European responses, which include sanctions over Erdogan’s series of “provocations.”

Member of staff, the author is a Political Science alumna from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). She keeps an eye out for issues of social justice, censorship and our changing political discourse. She can be reached at rabeeaqamar@thecorrespondent.pk


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