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France recalls ambassador after Erdoğan calls Macron's mental health into question

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left and French President Emmanuel Macron stand, during a group photo at a conference on Libya in Berlin.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left and French President Emmanuel Macron stand, during a group photo at a conference on Libya in Berlin.   -   Copyright  Michael Sohn/Associated Press
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France has recalled its ambassador to Turkey after the country's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan questioned the mental health of French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

Erdoğan questioned Macron's mental condition while criticising the French President's attitude toward Islam and Muslims.

His remarks at a local party congress were an apparent response to statements Macron made earlier this month about problems created by radical Muslims in France who practice what the French leader termed ``"Islamist separatism".

"What is the problem of this person called Macron with Islam and Muslims?'' Erdogan asked rhetorically during his Justice and Development (AK) Party, meeting in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.

``"What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?'' the Turkish leader continued.

The French presidency reacted hours later with a statement that said, "``Excess and rudeness are not a method'' and "``We are not accepting insults.''

Using unusually strong language, the French presidency said, ``"We demand Erdoğan change his policy, which is dangerous in all aspects.''

Macron's comments about "Islamist separatism" on Wednesday came in response to the beheading of Samuel Paty outside a school in a suburb outside Paris earlier this month.

The teacher had shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a class on free speech.

The French president pointed out that Erdoğan, a devout Muslim, had not offered condolences. French judicial authorities are investigating the killing as an Islamist terror attack.

In reaction to Macron's comments, Qatar's Al-Meera and Souq al-Baladi supermarkets chains removed French goods from their shelves.

Calls to boycott French goods are growing in the Arab world and beyond, after the French president vowed not to "give up cartoons" depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

In Gaza, supporters of the Hamas Islamic militant group also protested on Saturday against Macron and his crackdown on militant Islam in France.

Tensions between NATO allies France and Turkey have intensified in recent months over issues that include the fighting in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists.

Macron has notably accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria.

France also has sided with Greece and Cyprus in tensions with Turkey over offshore oil and gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, prompting criticism from Ankara.

Journalist name • Katy Dartford