Two weeks on, Turkey condemns beheading of French teacher even as Erdogan joins call for boycott of goods

26 Oct 2020

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on October 26, 2020. — Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on October 26, 2020. — Reuters

Turkey on Monday condemned the decapitation of French teacher Samuel Paty after France expressed disappointment over the lack of an official condemnation by Ankara.

“We strongly condemn the monstrous murder of Samuel Paty in France and we reject this barbarism. There is nothing legitimate about this murder,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.

Paty was attacked in the street and killed two weeks ago for showing his students cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) during a class on free speech.

French President Emmanuel Macron has angered Muslim-majority countries including Turkey which is officially secular, with a hardened stance against Islam that began to emerge before Paty's murder.

After Erdogan repeatedly called for Macron to get mental health checks, Paris responded by recalling its ambassador to Ankara.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed disappointment that Turkey had not issued a condemnation of the teacher's murder.

At the same time, Kalin defended Muslims' anger over the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“Some may not understand how we love our Prophet more than ourselves. They may not get their heads around how we see an insult to him as an insult to us.

"They may call our affection 'fanaticism'. That is their misfortune,” Kalin said.

“We will explain this to them persistently and in the best way possible,” he added.

Following Le Drian's remarks on Sunday, the Turkish foreign ministry said the country was “saddened” by Paty's murder, a message that was conveyed to French authorities by its ambassador to Paris.

Turkey joins calls for boycott of French goods

Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan on Monday joined calls for a boycott of French goods, ramping up a standoff between France and Muslim countries over Islam and freedom of speech.

Erdogan has led the charge against President Macron for defending mocking religion as part of freedom of speech following the schoolteacher's murder.

On Monday, the Turkish leader added his voice to calls in the Arab world for citizens to spurn French goods.

“Never give credit to French-labelled goods, don't buy them,” Erdogan said during a televised speech in Ankara.

French goods have already been pulled from supermarket shelves in Qatar and Kuwait, among other Gulf states, whereas in Syria people have burned pictures of Macron and French flags have been torched in the Libyan capital Tripoli.