FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
PARIS – After expressing several times Emmanuel Macron’s mental health concerns over the weekend, yesterday Turkish President Recep Erdogan launched accusations of fascism and Nazism aimed at European leaders: A lynching campaign similar to that conducted against European Jews before the Second World War is underway against the Muslims of Europe during a speech in the capital Ankara, then launching yet another appeal – the first of a head of state – to boycott French products.
The European leaders have lined up in defense of Macron and France, from the Italian Giuseppe Conte – unacceptable words – to Chancellor Merkel. In the Arab-Muslim world, from Amman to Gaza, anti-Macron demonstrations continued, with supermarket shelves emptied of cheeses and other French products.
We will not give up caricatures of Muhammad, President Macron had said last Wednesday, during the moving tribute to Samuel Paty. Macron reiterated France’s attachment to freedom of expression, after the teacher Paty was beheaded at school by an Islamic terrorist who wanted to punish him for showing some cartoons in class. Charlie Hebdo. But Turkish President Erdogan makes no mention of that tragedy. And it focuses on the cartoons of Mohammed, as indeed the governments of Morocco and Pakistan – also hard on France – and more indirectly Qatar and Kuwait, which have supported the boycotts of French products, have officially done these days.
The president of the French Council of Muslim worship, Mohammed Moussaoui, main interlocutor of the authorities on Islam, he replied to Erdogan denying him the right to speak on behalf of French Muslims: France is a great country, Muslim citizens are not persecuted. Erdogan’s attacks on Macron arise against the background of bad relations for months, on various dossiers of international politics: from Turkish interventions in Syria and Libya to Macron’s words on NATO in a state of brain death, from the accident in the eastern Mediterranean the French ships deployed in defense of Greece up to Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan against Armenia, close to Paris.
Then there are the internal difficulties of Erdogan, weakened by the economic crisis and a cultural revolution towards political Islam that does not take off. The Turkish leader then poses as defender of the umma, the community of believers of every country.
But there is also a more specific reason linked to Macron’s new action, who already last February in Mulhouse was criticizing consular Islam, that is the network of mosques and preachers based in France but financed by foreign Islamic powers: 151 imams paid by Turkey (mostly Turkish officials), 120 by Algeria and 20 by Morocco.
Macron wants to fight Islamist separatism and build a national Islam removed from foreign influence. Erdogan and the others do not tolerate it, and with their rhetoric they risk causing very serious consequences on the cohesion of French society. While Paris insists on the difference between the many French Muslims (to be defended) and the few radical Islamists (to be fought), Erdogan cancels all distinctions and credits the existence of a general Islamophobia. Macron, who only fights against extremists, is dangerously referred to as the enemy of all Muslims.
26 October 2020 (change October 26, 2020 | 22:10)
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