Erdoğan, caricature in Charlie Hebdo

Turkey reacts outraged to Charlie Hebdo cartoon about Erdoğan

Turkey denounces that Islamophobia and attacks on beliefs are disguised as humor and freedom of expression.

Turkey has reacted with outrage and strong criticism to the controversial new cartoon published by the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sitting in his underwear on a sofa while lifting the skirt of a Muslim woman – that shows her buttocks – and exclaiming “Oooh, the prophet!”.

“You cannot fool anyone by hiding behind freedom of speech. I condemn the immoral publication of this French rag without shame on our president,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter. “I ask international public opinion with morals and conscience to speak out against this shame,” he added.

The press officer of the Turkish Presidency, Fahrettin Altun, also criticised Charlie Hebdo for publishing “a series of alleged cartoons full of despicable images portraying our president. We condemn this totally disgusting attempt by this publication to spread his racism and hate,” Oktay said via Twitter.

“The so-called cartoons are disgusting and lack any real sense of human decency. It is clearly the product of a xenophobic, Islamophobic and intolerant cultural environment that French leaders seem to want for their country,” Altun said referring to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has defended the publication of cartoons about Islam as an example of freedom of expression and the values ​​of the French Republic.

“Attacking beliefs is not humor or freedom of expression”

“We will not remain silent in the face of these disgusting attacks on our culture and our religion, no matter where they come from… Racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic provocations will not be able to provoke us to do the same. We refuse to bow to their intimidations and provocations based on their supposed victimhood,” added Altun, who called on other European governments to react against “this primitive cultural racism, this intellectual vacuum and this uncivilised discourse.”

Erdoğan’s spokesman, İbrahim Kalın, also referred to the controversy, underlining that attacking individual rights is neither humor nor freedom of expression. “The aim of these publications, lacking in morality or decency, is to show the seeds of hatred and hostility (towards Islam),” said Kalın, adding that only a sick mind can understand attacks on religion and belief as freedom of speech, and that this “abominable publication” should be condemned by anyone with common sense.

Macron, whom Erdoğan said a few days ago that he “needs mental treatment” for his remarks about Islam as president of France (the country in Europe with the largest Muslim minority), has defended the cartoons about Islam from publications like Charlie Hebdo as an example of freedom of expression, especially after a teacher was beheaded on October 16 by a student for showing cartoons about Muhammad in a classroom.

Boycott of French products in Muslim countries

The French president, who weeks ago affirmed in a Parisian neighbourhood inhabited by an important Muslim minority that “Islam is in crisis throughout the world“, and has spoken of “Islamic separatism”, has nevertheless said that France will not renounce to its cartoons.

Earlier this year Charlie Hebdo had already republished his cartoons against Islam and against the Prophet Muhammad, coinciding with the 5th anniversary of the attacks against the weekly that caused 12 deaths. Erdoğan, who has been concerned about the increase in Islamophobia in Europe and claims that Macron is leading the Islamophobic discourse in the EU, has asked the Turks for a complete boycott of French products, a movement that other Muslim countries have already started.