Tuesday

9th Mar 2021

Turkey urges boycott of French products

  • France's Renault cars are among its leading exports to Turkey (Photo: looking4poetry)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become the first and only foreign leader to call for a boycott of French goods over alleged Islamophobia.

"I call on my people here: Never give credit to French-labelled goods, don't buy them," Erdoğan said in a TV speech in Ankara on Monday (26 October).

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"European leaders should tell the French president to stop his hate campaign [against Muslims]," Erdoğan added.

"Muslims are now subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II," he also claimed, falsely.

Erdoğan spoke amid a French crackdown on Islamist extremists, following the murder of a school teacher who had showed blasphemous cartoons of Mohammed in his class.

France exports about €5.5bn a year of goods, mostly cars and machinery, to Turkey.

But shops in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, and Qatar had also begun pulling French food and cosmetics off their shelves this weekend due to popular feeling, even before Erdoğan's call.

For their part, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands, as well as the European Commission and assorted EU personalities, voiced solidarity with France on Monday.

Erdoğan had reached a "new low", German foreign minister Heiko Maas said, referring also to the Turkish leader's tirade of anti-Macron insults this weekend.

"You have to defend yourself against violent Islamists and murderers. Anyone who equates this real problem with racism and Islamophobia is acting irresponsibly," Maas added.

The Netherlands "stands firmly with France and for the collective values of the European Union", Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said.

A commission spokesman said "freedom of expression" was a core EU value, alluding to the circulation of the anti-Mohammed cartoons in France.

"Whoever is saying anything against one of our member states, we will always stand by the side of that member state," he added.

"What Emmanuel Macron said has nothing to do with Islamophobia. He's defending freedom of speech and thought and religion for all," Guy Verhofstadt, a liberal Belgian MEP, said.

Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of The French Council of the Muslim Faith, an NGO, said boycotts were "counter-productive" and caused "division".

And Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, the head of the French employers' federation, Medef, voiced defiance.

"There is no question of giving in to blackmail ... It is a question of sticking to our republican values. There is a time to put principles above business," he said on Erdoğan's boycott.

EU leaders plan to review relations with Turkey at a summit in December, unless an emergency warrants an earlier meeting, officials said.

And despite the latest dispute, they still "hoped" to bring Turkey back into the fold.

"Turkey is a neighbour of the EU and a member of Nato. It has been a very important partner for the EU ... [and] this is why we want to engage with it," an EU commission spokesman said.

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