Cartoon of Erdogan in French Satirical Magazine Sparks Turkish Fury

A front-page cartoon in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo which mocks President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked furious reactions from Turkish officials on Tuesday.

“We condemn this most disgusting effort by this publication to spread its cultural racism and hatred,” Erdogan’s top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, Tweeted.

“French President Macron’s anti-Muslim agenda is bearing fruit! Charlie Hebdo just published a series of so-called cartoons full of despicable images purportedly of our President,” he continued.

The front-page caricature of Wednesday’s edition of Charlie Hebdo, released online on Tuesday night, shows Erdogan in a t-shirt and briefs, drinking a can of beer and lifting up the skirt of a woman wearing a hijab to reveal her naked bottom.

“Ooh, the prophet!” the character says in a speech bubble, while the title proclaims “Erdogan: in private, he’s very funny.”

The Turkish Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism simply hurled insults at Charlie Hebdo as his response to the cartoon.

Charlie Hebdo’s intervention came during an escalating war of words between Erdogan, Macron and other European leaders after the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty by a suspected Islamist attacker this month.

Macron vowed that France would adhere to its secular traditions and laws guaranteeing complete freedom of speech, which allows publications such as the virulently anti-religion Charlie Hebdo to produce cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The magazine has been the target of three terrorist attacks: in 2011, 2015, and 2020. All of them were presumed to be in response to a number of cartoons that it published controversially depicting Muhammad. In the second of these attacks, 12 people were killed, including publishing director Charb and several other prominent cartoonists.