Turkey’s President Erdogan calls for a boycott of French goods and accuses Europe of treating Muslims the same way it treated Jews before World War II

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for a boycott of French goods and compared Europe’s treatment of Muslims to the way Jews were treated before the Second World War.

‘You are in a real sense fascists, you are in a real sense the links in the chain of Nazism,’ Erdogan said Monday in a fiery speech in Ankara. 

‘Muslims are now subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II.’

He spoke out amid outcry in the Muslim world at French President Emmanuel Macron’s hardened stance on Islamic extremism, following a terror attack in Paris. 

Mourning teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded after showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed to children, Macron said France would ‘not give up the cartoons’ and accused ‘radical Islamists’ of ‘stealing our future’.

Speaking on Monday, Erdogan called for European leaders to ‘put and end’ to what he called Macron’s ‘anti-Islam’ agenda.

The suggestion that all Muslims who find cartoons of Mohammed offensive are ‘extremists’ has caused outrage in the Islamic world, with protests in Turkey, Syria, Libya, and Pakistan.

Joining the condemnation, Erdogan accused Macron of needing ‘mental health checks’ at the weekend, remarks he has repeated since. 

Meanwhile Pakistani PM Imran Khan accused him of ‘attacking Islam’ while summoning the French ambassador to explain himself.  

Boycotts of French goods are also underway in supermarkets in Qatar and Kuwait, with further calls to spurn French products in Jordan and other states.

On Monday, the head of France’s MEDEF employers’ federation said the boycott, which he described as ‘foolishness’, was clearly bad news for companies already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

‘But there is no question of giving in to blackmail,’ Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux told broadcaster RMC. ‘It is a question of sticking to our republican values.

‘There is a time to put principles above business.’

He said MEDEF supported the government’s stance and urged companies ‘to resist this blackmail and, unfortunately, to endure this boycott’, which he said remained ‘fairly localised’ for now. 

After teacher Samuel Paty’s gruesome murder by a Chechen extremist in the name of avenging the Prophet Mohamed, Macron vowed that France would never give up cartoons such as those which in 2015 triggered a deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and which Paty showed to his class.

Macron hailed Paty as a ‘hero’ for representing the secular, free-thinking values of the French republic, which include a long-cherished right to mock religion.

‘He was killed because Islamists want to take our future,’ Macron said at a memorial for Paty. ‘They will never have it.’

Several suspected Islamic radicals have been arrested in dozens of raids since the murder, and about 50 organisations with alleged links to such individuals have been earmarked for closure by the government.

Earlier this month, Macron unveiled a plan to defend France’s secular values against a trend of ‘Islamist separatism’, and described Islam as a religion ‘in crisis’.

France has in recent years been forced to take a hard look at its core values, perceived by many to be threatened by Islam following a string of jihadist attacks that have killed over 240 people since 2015.

But Macron’s stance has fuelled tension between France and the Muslim world, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telling his counterpart to undergo ‘mental checks’ for treating ‘millions of members from different faith groups this way’.

The comments prompted Paris to recall its envoy to Ankara. 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused Macron of ‘attacking Islam’.

Maher al-Huli, a leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, condemned the comments by Macron ‘and whoever offends the Prophet Mohammed, whether through words, actions, gestures or drawings’.

The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and Morocco have also spoken out against France.

On Monday, the Taliban in Afghanistan added its voice to the outcry, saying Macron’s comments amounted to ‘a stand against nations’.

The Taliban said ‘it would be better if he carefully studied Islam instead of making ignorant Islamophobic remarks’.

The head of the Amman chamber of commerce, Khalil Haj Tawfeeq, in a letter to the French ambassador to Jordan, called on Macron to apologise to the Islamic world.

France’s Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot insisted Monday on BFMTV that there was ‘no fight against French Muslims, there is simply a fight against Islamism and terrorism’.

Fresh protests are planned Monday in the Gaza Strip and Tuesday in Amman.

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