Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday criticised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to defend his country’s secular values against “radical Islam” as an “open provocation”.
This is the third successive day of Turkish anger at Macron’s plan to “liberate Islam in France from foreign influences”, adding to a growing list of disputes between the presidents.
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Macron last week described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.
He announced stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques.
“Macron’s statement that ‘Islam is in a crisis’ is an open provocation beyond disrespect,” Erdogan said in a televised address.
“Who are you to talk about the structuring of Islam?” he asked, accusing him of “impertinence”.
The French and Turkish leaders are already at odds over maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and the latest conflict in Azerbaijan’s separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Erdogan advised Macron “to pay more attention while talking about issues that he is ignorant about”.
“We expect him to act as a responsible statesman rather than act like a colonial governor.”
Turkey is a majority Muslim and secular country which is a part of NATO but not the European Union, where its membership bid has stalled for decades over a range of disputes.