Turkish parliament condemns remarks by France's Macron in cartoon row

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, October 14, 2020. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s parliament showed rare unity on Tuesday in condemning remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron in a row about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, calling his comments “sick rhetoric” with the potential to cause a global rupture.

Four parties including the ruling AK Party, their allies the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Iyi Party, issued a joint declaration saying Macron’s remarks could cause “destructive conflicts” among people of different beliefs.

The dispute follows an attack outside a French school on Oct. 16 in which a man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown pupils the cartoons in a civics lesson on freedom of speech.

The cartoons, considered blasphemous by Muslims, have been displayed in France in solidarity and Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values, angering many Muslims countries.

“With his reckless actions under the pretence of ‘supporting freedom of expression’, (Macron) is triggering a conflict, rupture whose global repercussions can deeply and negatively impact people of all beliefs,” the four parties said in their joint statement.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) was the only parliamentary party not part of the declaration.

President Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticised Macron at the weekend, saying the French leader needed a mental health check, prompting France to recall its ambassador from Ankara. On Monday, Erdogan urged a boycott of French products.

Several of France’s partners in the European Union rallied round the French leader. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Erdogan’s remarks about Macron were unacceptable.

Turkey and France, NATO members, have been at odds over a host of issues, from Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Reporting by Mert Ozkan and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Nick Tattersall