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UK declares solidarity with France amid row with Turkey in wake of teacher's murder

UK's foreign secretary calls on Nato allies to 'stand shoulder to shoulder' and 'never give terrorists the gift of dividing us'
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab declared his country's support for France on Wednesday amid calls for an economic boycott triggered by anti-Islam comments by President Macron (Reuters)

Britain declared on Wednesday its support for France in the midst of a diplomatic row with Turkey over the French president’s anti-Islam comments in the wake of the beheading of a school teacher by a Muslim radical. 

"The UK stands in solidarity with France and the French people in the wake of the appalling murder of Samuel Paty," Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. "Terrorism can never and should never be justified.

"Nato allies and the wider international community must stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the fundamental values of tolerance and free speech, and we should never give terrorists the gift of dividing us.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has triggered a campaign to boycott France around the Muslim world after he publicly backed the right to publish satirical caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and accused Islam of being a "religion in crisis". 

The president made the remarks while paying tribute to a French school teacher, Samuel Paty, beheaded by a Muslim radical on 16 October after he had shown caricatures of the prophet to his school pupils.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Monday for Turks never to buy French goods, as he continued his sharp criticism of his French counterpart over his attitude towards Muslims.

Erdogan also said on Saturday that Macron had a problem with Muslims and needed mental checks - a rebuke that caused France to recall its ambassador from Ankara.

Britain, France and Turkey are all Nato members.

Macron has pledged to fight "Islamist separatism", saying that it was threatening to take over some Muslim communities in France. 

Turkey on Monday condemned the "monstrous murder" of Paty after France had expressed disappointment over the lack of an official condemnation by Ankara.

The French reaction to Paty's murder has caused widespread anger in Muslim countries, where there have been anti-French demonstrations and calls for a boycott. France has warned its citizens in several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions.

Paris also said on Monday that it was deploying its diplomats across the Muslim world to ease tensions as anger mounted towards Macron.