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Macron accuses Turkey of 'bellicose' attitude towards Nato allies

French president hits out at Turkey as row over his comments on Islam continues to rage
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) walks past France's President Emmanuel Macron during the 2019 Nato summit in Watford, northeast of London (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey having a "bellicose" attitude towards its allies, as the row over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad contiues unabated.

In an interview broadcast on Saturday, Macron said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had displayed "belligerent behavior with Nato allies", adding that he hoped "things would calm down" and that the Turkish president "would not tell lies".

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His comments came as Erdogan, as well as a number of other leaders of Muslim-majority countries, continued to criticise Macron for comments he made describing Islam as being in a state of "crisis".

Macron,  in an interview with the Al Jazeera channel, said he hoped "that the Turkish president respects France, respects the European Union, respects its values, does not tell lies and does not utter insults".

He also lashed out at "distortions" from political leaders over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying that too often people were led to believe that they were a creation of the French state.

He slammed "a confusion that has been fed by many media - and sometimes political and religious leaders - which is to say that these caricatures are in a way the project or the creation of the French government or the president".

He also denounced calls for a boycott of French goods as "unworthy" and "unacceptable", saying the campaign was created by some private groups "who relied on lies… sometimes from other leaders" about the caricatures published in the Charlie Hebdo weekly.

Legal action by Erdogan

On Wednesday, Erdogan's office said they would take "legal and diplomatic action" over a "disgusting" cartoon in the French satirical magazine depicting him looking up a woman's skirt while drinking beer in his underpants.

Turkey's NTV television said Ankara had also summoned the second-most senior diplomat at the French embassy to express its "strong condemnation". 

Under normal circumstances, France's ambassador would have been summoned, but he has been recalled to Paris for consultations in a further sign of the deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two Nato allies.  

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The front-cover Charlie Hebdo cartoon came out just days after Erdogan had called for a boycott of French products and questioned Macron's sanity.

Macron's defence of the media's right to mock religion, as exemplified by Charlie Hebdo's cartoons of the prophet, has stirred angry protests across Turkey and much of the Muslim world.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday became the latest Islamic figure to criticise the French president, saying his defence of cartoons of the prophet was a "stupid act" and an "insult" to those who voted for him. 

Erdogan said he had not personally seen the Charlie Hebdo caricature because he did not want to "give credit to such immoral publications".

"I don't need to say anything to those scoundrels who insult my beloved prophet on such a scale," Erdogan said in a speech to his party's lawmakers.

"I am sad and frustrated not because of this disgusting attack on me personally, but because of the impertinence taking aim at our prophet we love more than ourselves."

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