Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned to one his favorite themes on Monday as he compared Europe’s treatment of Muslims today with the persecution of Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime during the Holocaust, drawing a sharp rebuke from the main organization representing Jews in France.
The Turkish autocrat’s latest comments came amid an ugly row with French President Emmanuel Macron on the topic of Islamism, with Erdogan asserting that Macron was suffering from “mental health” problems.
The French leader had earlier accused radical Islamists of fomenting “separatism” in France, pointing to the gruesome decapitation by a Muslim refugee earlier this month of Samuel Paty, a 41-year old school teacher who showed his class controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on free speech.
“Relocations, inquisitions and genocides towards members of different religions is not a practice that is foreign to Europe,” Erdogan declared in a speech in Ankara.
October 20, 2020 3:16 pm
He continued: “The crimes against humanity committed against Jews 80 years ago, the acts against our Bosnian brethren in Srebrenica just 25 years ago are still in the memory.”
Erdogan also called on Muslims to boycott French products.
“I am now telling my nation, just as they are saying in France not to buy anything from Turkish brands, I call on my nation here and now: do not pay attention to French-labelled goods, do not buy them,” he said.
It was not immediately clear what boycott of Turkish products in France Erdogan was referring to.
France’s Jewish representative organization slammed Erdogan’s comments, charging that the Turkish leader saw himself as the “new caliph of the Muslim world.”
In a statement, CRIF President Francis Kalifat argued that “for years, the tyrant of Ankara has pursued an aggressive and expansionist policy made of threats, intimidation, invectives and insults unworthy of a head of state, sparking an outpouring of threats and hatred against France and its president.”
Continued Kalifat: “France cannot be the new playground for Erdogan’s follies.”
He urged the French public to stand by Macron.
“By attacking the president of the republic, it is France that is being attacked and it is France, united in all its components, which must stand by his side,” said Kalifat.
In a separate statement, ELNET — an NGO focused on developing Europe-Israel ties — declared its support for Macron’s characterization of Paty’s murder as an “‘Islamist terrorist attack,’” alongside his warning against ‘Islamist separatism.’”
Said ELNET: “Such warnings have nothing to do with claims of Islamophobia, which are often used as a diversionary tool to prevent criticism of radical Islamism. They have everything to do with attempts by extreme Islamist elements to disrupt liberal democracy’s way of life, undermine the collective foundations of society, and violently impose their extreme, distorted mindset.”