ISTANBUL/PARIS (Reuters) – France recalled its ambassador on Saturday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed mental help over his attitude towards Muslims.
“Outrage and insult are not a method,” Macron’s office said.
The French leader this month declared war on “Islamist separatism”, which he believes is taking over some Muslim communities in France.
France has since been shaken by the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist radical, avenging the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.
“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level,” Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish city of Kayseri.
“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?” Erdogan added.
Turkey and France are both members of the NATO military alliance, but have been at odds over issues including Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“France has gathered its European partners, who share France’s demand that Turkey puts a stop to its dangerous adventures in the Mediterranean and in the region,” the statement from Macron’s office said.
Erdogan has two months to respond or face measures, it added, noting the absence of a condolence message from Turkey’s leader after the history teacher’s death last week.
Erdogan is a pious Muslim and since his Islamist-rooted AK Party first came to power in 2002, he has sought to shift Islam into the mainstream of politics in Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim but constitutionally secular country.
The Turkish president had also said on Oct. 6 that Macron’s comments on Islamist threats were “a clear provocation” and showed “impertinence”.
(Reporting by Daren Butler and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Frances Kerry and Andrew Cawthorne)