In a recent speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused France of being responsible for the ongoing riots in its major cities, claiming that they were caused by “institutional racism” and “Islamophobia”. He said that France had failed to protect the rights and dignity of its Muslim citizens, who make up about 10% of the population, and had instead subjected them to discrimination, harassment and violence.
Erdogan’s remarks came amid rising tensions between Turkey and France over a range of issues, including the conflicts in Syria and Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, and the controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad published by a French magazine. Erdogan has repeatedly criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for his stance on Islam and secularism, calling him “mentally ill” and urging him to seek “mental treatment”.
The riots in France started in late October 2023, after a police officer shot and killed a young black man named Malik Traore in a suburb of Paris. The officer claimed that he acted in self-defense, but witnesses and video footage contradicted his version of events. The incident sparked outrage and protests across the country, demanding justice for Traore and an end to police brutality and racism. The protests soon turned violent, with clashes between demonstrators and security forces, as well as vandalism, looting and arson.
Erdogan said that the riots were a sign of France’s “deep crisis” and “moral collapse”, and that Macron had failed to address the root causes of the problem. He said that Turkey stood in solidarity with the oppressed people of France, and called on the international community to intervene and stop the “state terror” perpetrated by the French government.
Erdogan’s speech was met with strong condemnation from France, which accused him of interfering in its internal affairs and spreading lies and propaganda. A spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry said that Erdogan’s statements were “unacceptable” and “irresponsible”, and that they only served to fuel hatred and division. The spokesperson also said that France was a democratic country that respected human rights and the rule of law, and that it would not tolerate any external interference or pressure.