International Analysis

How France's crackdown on 'separatism' has played into hands of Turkey's Erdogan

President Emmanuel Macron has championed measures against Islamic 'separatism' in French society, and legislation on the issue is currently going through the country's Parliament. This controversial move has handed Turkey's combative president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a fresh opportunity to portray himself as the leading Muslim leader standing up against Western Islamophobia. But as Nicolas Cheviron reports from Istanbul, behind the geopolitical considerations, Franco-Turkish Muslims have genuine concerns about the new measures in France.

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In recent months Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become a regular and outspoken critic of what he calls French “Islamophobia”. An example was Erdogan's reaction after his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, gave a speech at Les Mureaux, north-west of Paris, on October 2nd 2020. The French president announced a raft of measures aimed at clamping down on Islamist radicalism and the influence of foreign powers in France's Muslim communities; in response Turkey's leader suggested that Macron needed “mental treatment”. He has also accused the French head of state of behaving like a “colonial prefect” and of wanting to “settle old scores with Islam and Muslims”.

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