French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday accused Turkey of “trying to whip up hatred” against France, continuing a war of words between the two NATO allies over Islam.
On Saturday, France said it was recalling its envoy to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed his mental health checked.
Erdogan accused Macron of having a “problem” with Islam and with Muslims for defending the right to show cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed — an act for which a French schoolteacher was murdered last week.
Le Drian slammed the “insults” against Macron, describing them as “unacceptable conduct” from an ally.
Ankara’s “hateful, slanderous propaganda against France” revealed a desire to “whip up hate against us and in our midst,” he added.
He also reiterated France’s disappointment at Turkey’s failure to condemn the gruesome killing of teacher Samuel Paty or to express solidarity with France in the aftermath of the attack.
Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a class on freedom of speech.
The attack caused deep shock in France, coming five years after an extremist massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which first published the cartoons seen by many Muslims as offensive.
Macron hailed Paty as a “silent hero” who upheld France’s secular values and vowed that the country would “not give up our cartoons”, incensing Erdogan.
“What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have mental checks,” Erdogan said in a televised address.
“Macron needs mental treatment,” he added.
France and Turkey are at loggerheads over a range of issues including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Erdogan has frequently taken aim at Macron, referring to him as “brain dead” last year after the French leader used the term to describe the state of NATO.