The latest France-Turkey fast deteriorating diplomatic spat has gone from bad to worse, after on Saturday France recalled its ambassador following President Erdogan's insulting remarks targeting Macron, which also riled EU leaders. But on Sunday Erdogan repeated the words, "Macron needs to get himself checked out" - suggesting the French leader has mental problems due to remarks which blamed "Islamist terrorism" in the wake of the horrific beheading of a middle school teacher on October 16 by a young Chechen refugee angry the teacher had shown cartoon images of Muhammad.
On Monday Erdogan escalated dramatically, calling for a Turkish boycott of all French goods over what he called France's 'anti-Islamic' stance towards Muslims and the Turkish people. The call for a boycott of France plunged the lira to a new all time low of 8.0750, while Turkish stocks sink.
Erdogan said during a televised speech in Ankara:
"As it has been said in France, 'don't buy Turkish-labelled goods', I call on my people here. Never give credit to French-labelled goods, don't buy them."
This could create a broader ripple effect and new tensions for France among a number of Middle East countries as "calls for boycott also erupted over the Middle East, with some outlets in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar removing made-in-France items from their stalls, and protests erupting in several countries," according to Israeli media.
At the same time Macron has emphasized a freedom of speech message over the teacher Samuel Paty's slaying, vowing that the French "not give up our cartoons".
Erdogan's fiery speech in reaction further emphasized Macron's supposed 'anti-Islamic' stance.
Erdoğan is whipping up Muslim animosity against Macron | Ahval ➖ https://t.co/Yft7HXOqow— Ahval (@ahval_en) October 26, 2020
The whole episode has brought back with ferocity the national debate over free speech versus political correctness and "sensitivity" to the beliefs of Islamic hardliners, as especially seen with some recent public displays in France inspired of the January 7, 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Statements are now coming in from other leaders of Muslim majority countries, which could be a bad sign for France:
Meanwhile Pakistani PM Imran Khan accused him of 'attacking Islam' while summoning the French ambassador to explain himself.
Boycotts of French goods are also underway in supermarkets in Qatar and Kuwait, with further calls to spurn French products in Jordan and other states.
On Monday, the head of France's MEDEF employers' federation said the boycott, which he described as 'foolishness', was clearly bad news for companies already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the MEDEF chief Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux still said: "But there is no question of giving in to blackmail," and he added that "It is a question of sticking to our republican values."