Erdogan blasts 'disgusting' Charlie Hebdo cartoon
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Istanbul (AFP) –
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vented his outrage at the "scoundrels" at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo for mocking him in a front-page cartoon.
His office also vowed to take unspecified "legal and diplomatic actions" over the depiction of the 66-year-old leader drinking a can of beer in his underpants and looking up a Muslim woman's skirt.
The publication has stoked fury in Turkish political circles and added to a sense of crisis enveloping Turkey's deteriorating relations with France.
It came out just days after Erdogan called for a boycott of French products and questioned President Emmanuel Macron's sanity for promoting a drive against radical Islam.
Macron's accompanying defence of the media's right to mock religion has stirred angry protests across Turkey and swathes of the Muslim world.
Erdogan said he had never personally seen the Charlie Hebdo drawing because he did not want to "give credit to such immoral publications".
But he called it "disgusting" nonetheless.
"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 in the parliament.
"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," he said.
- 'Vicious and ugly' -
Turkey is a mostly Muslim but officially secular country that has taken a more conservative and nationalist course under Erdogan's rule.
These policies have put Turkey and Erdogan at growing odds with France and Macron -- one of Ankara's most vocal critics and a defender of the freedom to blaspheme.
Erdogan on Wednesday accused "Macron and those who share the same mentality with him" of pursuing "vicious, provocative and ugly policies that sow the seeds of hatred".
Charlie Hebdo's offending drawing showed Erdogan lifting up the skirt of a woman in a hijab and uttering "Ooh, the prophet!" as he ogled her naked bottom.
Ankara prosecutors said they were launching an investigation into the publication for "insulting the head of state".
The cartoon was published in the middle of an emotional debate over France's broader policy toward Muslims.
That conversation has been lent urgency by the murder near Paris this month of a teacher who showed his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed previously published by Charlie Hebdo.
Images of the prophet are strictly forbidden in Islam.
Macron's defence of the drawings saw tens of thousands march Tuesday through the Bangladesh capital Dhaka and protesters burn pictures of Macron and French tricolour flags in Syria.
Smaller protests returned to Dhaka on Wednesday and also hit the Indian city Mumbai and parts of the Gaza Strip.
"If the statesmen of Europe want peace and stability in their countries, they must honour the dignity of Muslims, respecting their values," protester Ozgur Bursali said at a rally outside the French embassy in Ankara.
- Right to blaspheme -
The crisis between Ankara and Paris resulted in France recalling its ambassador to the Turkish capital on Saturday.
Erdogan and Macron have spent previous months sparring over Turkey's push into the eastern Mediterranean as well as its policies in Syria and Libya.
Turkish officials accuse Macron of creating a culture that encourages Charlie Hebdo to use its right to offend.
But the French satirical weekly has been at the forefront of edgy content linked to Muslims and Islam for many years.
Charlie Hebdo first joined some other European publications by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006.
It fell victim to a massacre that killed 12 in 2015 after it reprinted some of the controversial images.
The weekly reprinted those images again last month as a trial began of people accused of complicity in the assault.
© 2020 AFP