BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:10 P.M.) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on his criticism of his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Sunday, as he reiterated his call for the latter to get a “mental check.”
“(Macron) is a case and therefore he really needs to have (mental) checks,” he said in a televised speech in the eastern Anatolian city of Malatya.
On Saturday, Erdogan made a similar statement, following his speech on Macron’s critique of Islam and his call on the French people to “not give up cartoons”.
In a speech after the French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed to pupils in a lesson on free speech, Macron vowed France would “not give up cartoons” and said Paty “was killed because Islamists want our future”.
Macron’s statement infuriated Erdogan, who made his first comments about the French leader needing a mental check.
“What is Macron’s problem with Islam? What is his problem with Muslims?” Erdogan said, speaking at his Justice and Development Party meeting in Kayseri. “Macron needs some sort of mental treatment. What else is there to say about a head of state who doesn’t believe in the freedom of religion and behaves this way against the millions of people of different faiths living in his own country?”
France responded to Erdogan’s insult by recalling its ambassador to Ankara and calling the Turkish leader’s comments as ‘unacceptable’.
Macron and Erdogan have clashed on a number of occasions over the last year, including the recent spat over Turkey’s oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and their support for Azerbaijan in the ongoing Karabakh conflict.