Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday expressed his outrage at a “disgusting” cartoon in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that depicts him looking up a woman’s skirt while drinking beer in his underpants, AFP reported. Erdogan’s office vowed to take “legal and diplomatic action” against the publication.
The cartoon comes amid heightened tensions between Turkey and France over French President Emmanuel Macron’s firm stance against Islamism following the beheading of a teacher who showed caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. The caricatures, which are considered blasphemous in Islam, have stirred protests across Turkey and other countries in the West Pacific.
Erdogan has led the charge against France and has even questioned Macron’s sanity. He claimed that Macron needed his head examined and had lost his way. He also called on Turks to boycott French goods.
The Turkish president on Wednesday said he had not personally seen the Charlie Hebdo caricature because he did not want to “give credit to such immoral publications”. The front-page cartoon depicted Erdogan in his underwear holding a drink and lifting the skirt of a woman wearing an Islamic dress.
“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.”
He also criticised France and other Europe nations’ colonial past saying, “You are murderers!” according to AP.
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s office, meanwhile, launched an investigation against Charlie Hebdo managers over the cartoon, Tukey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey that is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry later summoned the French officials and demanded that the French authorities “take the necessary political and legal steps” against the drawings, which the ministry said “exceed the boundaries of freedom of expression,” Anadolu reported, quoting Turkish government officials.
Since an 18-year-old boy beheaded the French schoolteacher, Macron has strongly defended such depictions as protected by the right to free speech. He called the incident an “Islamist attack” and urged citizens to stand up against extremism. “Islamists want our future,” Macron had said.
Macron’s stance has drawn anger from Muslim political leaders and sparked anti-France protests. Tens of thousands of protestors marched on Tuesday through the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. In Syria, demonstrators burned pictures of Macron and French flags, while others rallied across parts of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday became the latest Islamic figure to criticise the French president, saying his defence of cartoons of the prophet was a “stupid act” and an “insult” to those who voted for him.
“Ask [Macron] why he supports insulting God’s messenger in the name of freedom of expression. Does freedom of expression mean insulting, especially a sacred personage?” Khamenei said in a message to “French youth” on his official website.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had accused the French leader chose to encourage anti-Muslim sentiment and creating polarisation in the society.
On Wednesday, Khan, wrote letters to the heads of Muslim states, expressing his concern over the “ridicule and mockery” of the Prophet Muhammad, according to AP. Khan wrote that “covert and overt discrimination” against Muslims is widespread in Europe.
“I believe the leadership in these countries, often acts out of lack of understanding of the intrinsic deep passion, love and devotion Muslims all over the world have for their Prophet,” he wrote.