′Dictator′ Erdogan magazine cover elicits protests in France | News | DW | 29.05.2018
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'Dictator' Erdogan magazine cover elicits protests in France

One kiosk owner said a group of pro-Erdogan activists threatened to set fire to his establishment if he didn't remove posters of the magazine. The French president has condemned the protesters' actions as "unacceptable."

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned protests against a provocative magazine cover that likened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a dictator.

"It is utterly unacceptable that posters of Le Point should be withdrawn from newspaper kiosks on the grounds that they displease the enemies of freedom, in France or abroad," Macron said in a tweet on Monday. "Freedom of the press has no price; without it, it's dictatorship.

Read more: Germany and the long arm of Turkey's AKP

The French magazine's latest issue offered a new investigation into the Turkish leader's policies and included an editorial that asked whether Erdogan is a "new Hitler," referring to the former dictator and mass murderer that led Nazi Germany during World War II.

Over the weekend, Erdogan supporters took to the streets in several French cities to decry the cover of the left-leaning magazine.

In the southern city of Avignon, police were deployed after a group of Erdogan's supporters tried to remove posters advertising the magazine at a kiosk.

The kiosk owner told Le Point afterward that the men threatened to set his establishment on fire if he failed to remove the posters.

"After a week of harassment, insults, intimidation and anti-Semitic slurs and threats toward us on social media, now has come the moment when the supporters of [Erdogan's Justice and Development Party] are attacking symbols of freedom of expression and diversity in the press," Le Point said on its website.

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The Erdogan phenomenon

'Export censorship'

Tensions have risen between Turkey and several European countries, including Germany, since the failed coup of July 2016. Over the last two years, Erdogan has orchestrated a major crackdown that has seen tens of thousands of soldiers, police officers, judges and teachers arrested.

Read more: Germany and Turkey in 2017 — a rollercoaster relationship

"Following a coup attempt in 2016, the government imposed a state of emergency allowing rule by decree," said Human Rights Watch in its 2018 annual report. "Turkish authorities dismissed over 150,000 public officials due to alleged coup links, with courts jailing over 64,000 more on terrorism charges."

Harlem Desir, a representative on media freedom for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), decried Erdogan's attempt to "export censorship to other countries, saying it is "totally unacceptable."

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'Climate of fear in Turkey'

ls/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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