France condemns 'unacceptable' comments from Erdoğan on Macron's mental health

(Updates with Erdoğan, Elysee statement, boycott calls)

France slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over comments he made about his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron's mental health and treatment of Muslims.

Such “excess” and “coarseness” on the part of Erdoğan are “unacceptable,” Macron’s Elysee office said in a statement Saturday, according to Le Monde

“We demand that Erdoğan changes the course of his policy because it’s dangerous,” the Elysee said.

France also noted that it is the first time a top diplomat has been recalled from Turkey.

France recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations on Saturday after Erdoğan questioned Macron's mental condition while criticising his attitude toward Islam and Muslims. 

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

"What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have mental checks," Erdoğan said during his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. 

"What's the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?" Erdoğan asked, while indicating he did not expect the French leader to win a new mandate in 2022 elections.

The Turkish president on Sunday added to his criticism of Macron, saying his French counterpart had “lost his way.''

“The person in charge of France has lost his way. He goes on about Erdogan all day. Look at yourself first and where you are going. I said in Kayseri yesterday, he is a case and he really must be checked up,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech in the eastern Malatya province.

According to AFP, the Elysee official, who asked not to be named, also said that France had noted "the absence of messages of condolence and support" from the Turkish president after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris.

Macron has vowed to crack down on what he called Islamist separatism in the country after France was rocked by the beheading of Samuel Paty on Oct. 16. 

Paty was a history professor who had taught a class on freedom of expression during which he used controversial caricatures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed from satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The killing of the teacher by a suspected terrorist in a Paris suburb reignited tensions over secularism, Islamism and Islamophobia in France.

France "will not give up our cartoons", Macron said.

Following French president's remarks, calls to boycott French goods are growing in the Arab world and beyond, AFP said.

Jordan's foreign ministry said on Saturday that it condemns the "continued publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed under the pretext of freedom of expression" and any "discriminatory and misleading attempts that seek to link Islam with terrorism."

The country's opposition Islamic Action Front party called on the French president to apologise for his comments and urged citizens in the kingdom to boycott French goods.

Such boycotts are already underway in Kuwait and Qatar, AFP said.

Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council called Macron's words "irresponsible" on Friday, and said they would "increase the spread of a culture of hatred", according to AFP.

Tensions between France and Turkey have seen a constant rise in tensions since last year over Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 air missile system, a Turkish operation targeting Kurdish forces in northern Syria and Turkey's involvement in the Libyan conflict.

The two countries also have been at odds due to hydrocarbon resources in the disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean.