As Macron moves against Islamists, Erdogan says he needs ‘mental checks’

Turkish premier alleges unfair policies against Muslims, as France attempts clampdown on extremism in response to terror wave including teacher’s beheading

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures at a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on September 21, 2020. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures at a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on September 21, 2020. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday slammed his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, over his policies toward Muslims, saying that he needed “mental checks.”

“What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: First of all, have mental checks,” Erdogan said in a televised address.

Macron’s proposal to defend his country’s secular values against radical Islam has angered the Turkish government, adding to a growing list of disputes between the French leader and Erdogan.

Macron this month described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.

He said extremists were seeking to indoctrinate new converts across France, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech on October 2, 2020 in Les Mureaux, outside Paris. (Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP)

He denounced a trend of “Islamist separatism” that flouts French rules and seeks to create a “counter-society” holding its own laws above all others. He also announced stricter oversight of schooling and better control over foreign funding of mosques.

France has been rocked by a wave of terror attacks in recent weeks, notably the gruesome beheading of a history teacher in a street in a Paris suburb last week. The suspected attacker was shot and killed by police.

The French government in recent days issued an order to dissolve a domestic Islamist extremist group inspired by Hamas, and ordered a mosque in a Paris suburb to close for six months for promoting messages against the teacher on social media prior to his murder.

In an unrelated event, police in Paris arrested seven British nationals Tuesday, suspected of involvement in an attempted car-ramming a day earlier of an officer stationed outside the Israeli embassy in the French capital.

Last month, a man armed with a meat cleaver critically wounded two people near Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in the French capital’s 11th district.

The man, who said he was born in Pakistan and is 18, added that he “takes responsibility for his action,” which came three weeks into the trial of suspected accomplices in the 2015 massacre of the newspaper’s staff, a source close to the investigation said.

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