Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government are going wild. European politicians, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and PVV leader Geert Wilders in particular, will suffer. The timing and fierceness of Erdogan’s swipe is suspicious, as it appears to be primarily intended to divert attention from domestic problems.
Wilders head from Jut in Turkey
Earlier this month, a teacher was stabbed and beheaded in France after showing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed during a lesson on freedom of expression. At his memorial, Macron said he would adhere to the right to share such cartoons.
That was against the sore leg of Erdogan, who said last weekend that his French counterpart needs psychological help.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu went a step further by labeling politicians like Macron and Wilders as “fascist losers.”
Wilders became the head of Jut in Turkey after sharing a cartoon of Erdogan as a terrorist. According to the Turkish president, Wilders is unworthy of the title of representative of the people. Erdogan then filed a report. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who also stood up for Macron earlier this week, condemned the attack on Wilders. Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok did the same.
The reactions from Europe seem like grist to the mill of Erdogan and his government, who can thus once again convince the constituency that the West is after Turkey and that the country is not being awarded anything.
“It helps to divert attention from a faltering economy and the fall of the Turkish lira. In addition, complaining about European hypocrisy and Islamophobia is Erdogan’s trademark,” concludes Howard Eissenstat, Turkey expert at St. Lawrence University in the US. state of New York.
“The reactions from Europe confirm his prejudice and allow the president to play his favorite political role, that of guardian of the honor of Islam to the lying West,” he thinks.
It is a traditional ingredient of Erdogan’s now common recipe, who previously also sold the international response to Turkey’s role in Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean in a similar fashion.
International criticism of the search for oil and gas in the Mediterranean is selling well in Turkey. (Photo: Nick Augusteijn)
Erdogan seems to want to continue on the same path. The president is convinced that the cards for a role on the world stage are currently being shuffled again, especially now that there is a lack of American leadership and the EU has other concerns.