Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emmanuel Macron

France Not Planning Reciprocal Boycott on Turkish Products: Trade Minister

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PARIS (Reuters) — France is not planning a reciprocal boycott against Turkish products and will continue talks and relations with Turkey and its president, Trade Minister Franck Riester said on Monday, October 26.

“There is no retaliation on the agenda,” Riester told RTL radio. He nevertheless reiterated the government’s condemnation of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s recent comments about President Emmanuel Macron and his treatment of Muslims in France.

Erdogan urged compatriots on Monday to stop buying French goods, joining calls around the Muslim world for a consumer boycott in protest over images being displayed in France of the Prophet Mohammad that Muslims see as blasphemous.

In a televised speech, he urged world leaders to protect Muslims “if there is oppression against Muslims in France.”

Erdogan has angrily criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for pledging to defend secularism against radical Islam.

It comes after a teacher was killed for showing Prophet Muhammad cartoons.

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Samuel Paty was beheaded on October 16 by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov outside Paris, after presenting the images to his pupils during a class about freedom of speech.

Macron has paid tribute to Paty, and said France “will not give up our cartoons.”

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam, and are offensive to many Muslims.

But state secularism — or laïcité — is central to France’s national identity. Curbing freedom of expression to protect the feelings of one particular community undermines unity, the state says.

Erdogan called for the boycott in a televised speech on Monday.

“Never give credit to French-labeled goods, don’t buy them,” he said in the capital Ankara.

He said Muslims are now “subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II,” adding that “European leaders should tell the French president to stop his hate campaign.”

Over the weekend, Erdogan said Macron needed a mental health check for speaking out so forcefully on Islam — comments that caused France to recall its ambassador to Turkey for consultations.

Two weeks before the attack, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and announced new measures to tackle what he called “Islamist separatism.”

France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, and some accuse the authorities of using secularism to target them.

European leaders have come out in support of France. Germany expressed “solidarity” with Macron after the Turkish president’s comments, with government spokesman Steffen Seibert calling the remarks “defamatory” and “completely unacceptable” and foreign minister Heiko Maas calling Erdogan’s personal attacks “a particular low point.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands “stands firmly with France and for the collective values of the European Union,” while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also expressed his “full solidarity” with Macron.

“Personal insults do not help the positive agenda that the EU wants to pursue with Turkey,” he wrote in a tweet.

But Turkey is not the only country to criticize Macron’s comments. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the French president of “attacking Islam” in a tweet on Sunday, while French products have been removed from some shops in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar. There have also been protests in a number of countries, including Bangladesh, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Erdogan’s calls for a boycott come after months of rising tensions between France and Turkey.

While both countries are NATO members, they support differing sides in the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Libya’s civil war.

Macron has also clashed with Mr Erdogan over Turkish oil and gas exploration in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean. France deployed jets and a frigate to the region in August amid the tensions.

And in January, Macron accused the Turkish president of breaking a promise to stay out of the conflict in Libya.

Protesters in Istanbul shout slogans against France during a demonstration Sunday against French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments about caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. (Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images)

“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam?” Erdogan said during a speech to members of his political party on Saturday. “Macron needs treatment on a mental level.”

“What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?”

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