The French government’s tough crackdown on radical Islam has angered Muslim countries around the world.
Following the beheading of a school teacher on the streets of Paris by a Muslim immigrant terrorist because he showed cartoons of Prophet Mohammed to his pupils during a lesson on freedom of expression, France ordered the temporary closure of a mosque in a Paris suburb and also planned to expel 231 radicalised foreign nationals.
The Islamic world denounced Macron’s Islamophobic stance.
At the backdrop of France’s tightening laws, trade organisations in the Islamic world called for a boycott French products.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to boycott French goods. He angrily criticised Macron for pledging to defend secularism against radical Islam.
France is the 10th biggest source of imports into Turkey and the seventh biggest market for Turkey’s exports, according to Turkey’s statistical institute.
In a strongly worded statement, France’s foreign ministry demanded that calls for a boycott of its products and the “occasionally hateful” protests against the country must end.
Following the backlash, European leaders rallied behind Macron. France also recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultation.
Erdogan’s statements were followed by personal remarks directed at Macron. He said: “Macron needs treatment on a mental level.”
Macron responded to the Turkish President by tweeting in French, English and Arabic: “We will not give in, ever. We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values.”
Turkey, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait are among Islamic countries to criticise the publication of the cartoons, which originally appeared in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, sparking a terrorist attack in 2015 that killed 12 people.
Muslims have been angered by Macron’s comments earlier this month that Islam is “a religion that is in crisis all over the world today”. Influential Egypt university-mosque al-Azhar described Macron’s statement as “racist”.
Pakistan also criticised France, with Prime Minister Imran Khan accusing Macron of “attacking Islam” by encouraging the publication of caricatures of Mohammed.
France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population and some accuse the authorities of using secularism to target them.