ISTANBUL: Protesters raise their fingers during a demonstration against the French president on Sunday.—AFP
ISTANBUL: Protesters raise their fingers during a demonstration against the French president on Sunday.—AFP

ISTANBUL: The backlash against President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Islam intensified on Sunday, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again urging him to have “mental checks” and many Muslims demanding boycotts of France.

Speaking after teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded for showing sketches of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to pupils in a lesson on free speech, Macron vowed France would “not give up cartoons” and said Paty “was killed because Islamists want our future”.

But Erdogan on Saturday urged Macron to have “mental checks” for treating “millions of members from different faith groups this way” — comments which prompted Paris to recall its envoy to Ankara.

The Turkish leader doubled down on those comments on Sunday, accusing Macron of being “obsessed with Erdogan day and night”.

“(Macron) is a case and therefore he really needs to have (mental) checks,” he said in a televised speech in the eastern Anatolian city of Malatya.

Relations between Macron and Erdogan have become increasingly strai­ned over geopolitical issues ranging from a Greek-Turkish maritime dispute to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Anger at Macron spilt over into the streets in several Muslim-majority countries, with further demonstrations expected.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2020