UPDATES WITH STATEMENT FROM DEFENSE MINISTER
By Faruk Zorlu, Muhammed Ali Toruntay, Baris Gundogan, and Zafer Fatih Beyaz
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey blasted French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo on Tuesday for publishing “loathsome so-called cartoons" purportedly of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“You cannot deceive anyone by hiding behind freedom of expression! I condemn the immoral publication of the inexcusable French rag about our President," Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter.
“I call on the moral, conscientious international public to speak out against this disgrace."
Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also weighed in.
"Charlie Hebdo just published a series of so-called cartoons full of despicable images purportedly of our President. We condemn this most disgusting effort by this publication to spread its cultural racism and hatred," he said on Twitter.
"The so-called caricatures are loathsome and they are devoid of any real sense of human decency. It's clearly the product of a xenophobic, Islamophobic, and intolerant cultural environment the French leadership seems to want for their country," Altun said.
Stressing Turkey's opposition to any violence or acts of terrorism, he added: "We will not remain silent in the face of disgusting attacks on our culture and religion no matter where they come from."
"Racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic incitements will not be able to provoke us into reciprocating in kind. We refuse to bow down to your intimidation and provocations based on your perceived victimhood," he said.
"We call on all sensible European friends to fight back against this kind of primitive cultural racism, intellectual barrenness, and uncivilized discourse."
- Not 'humor' or 'freedom of speech'
Also condemning the satirical weekly, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that attacking individual rights has nothing to do with humor or freedom of speech.
"The aim of these publications, devoid of morality and decency, is to sow seeds of hatred and animosity," he wrote on Twitter.
Saying that turning freedom of expression into hostility towards religion and belief can only be the product of a sick mentality, Kalin added that everyone with common sense should condemn this abominable publication.
Omer Celik, the spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, also took to Twitter to condemn Charlie Hebdo.
Accusing the magazine of turning into a "hate production center," Celik said: "We strongly condemn their immoral publications about our President."
“This conception of publication is not freedom of thought, but hostility to belief. This mentality has reached a disgusting point," he added.
- 'Humor of terrorism'
Turkey's defense minister also criticized the magazine over its insulting publication against Islam and the Turkish president, calling the publication a "clear attack" and "humor of terrorism."
"We strongly and regretfully condemn the ugly attacks of a so-called magazine published in France against the Islamic world, our country and our president," Hulusi Akar said in a written statement on Wednesday.
Charlie Hebdo attacks Islam systematically under the freedom of expression and violates the universal and moral values, he added.
Akar also said that kind of publication will only help radical groups and harms France most where considerable Muslim population live.
- 'Swamp of Islamophobia, Turcophobia'
In a fresh statement on Wednesday, the Communications Directorate strongly condemned the weekly magazine for its "provocative acts. "
The directorate said the offensive material is nothing but "the dirty swamp of 'Turcophobia and Islamophobia' in which Europe sinks more and more every day. "
Saying necessary legal and diplomatic steps will be taken against the offensive material, the directorate said that a crowd led by French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders is trying to provoke the Muslim world by hiding behind such values as freedom of expression, democracy, and pluralism.
Decrying the rising Islamophobia in Europe, the directorate called on all countries, especially France, to take the necessary steps in a responsible and equitable manner against provocative attacks in recent weeks, and to fight together against this mentality that tramples all values as well as its supporters.
Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron accused French Muslims of "separatism" and claimed Islam is "a religion in crisis all over the world. "
Tensions further escalated after a schoolteacher was murdered in retaliation for showing his students offensive cartoons displaying the Muslim Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression.
Macron paid tribute to the teacher and said France would "not give up our cartoons."
Insulting cartoons by Charlie Hebdo were also projected on buildings in a few cities.
Earlier this year, the magazine republished cartoons insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
Several Arab countries as well as Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have condemned Macron's attitude toward Muslims and Islam, with President Erdogan saying the French leader needs "mental treatment."
Amid calls in many countries to boycott French products, Erdogan has also urged a boycott among Turkish consumers.