Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched legal proceedings against a French magazine which branded Turkey’s president “The Eradicator” after he sent troops into Syria to push back Kurdish forces, media reported Friday.
The complaint was filed against Le Point director Etienne Gernelle and the head of the magazine’s international service Romain Gubert, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
On this week’s cover, Le Point published a picture of Erdogan giving a military salute with the subtitle “Ethnic cleansing: the Erdogan method”, provoking sharp criticism from Turkish government officials.
The cover’s headline called Erdogan “The Eradicator” and asked: “Will he be allowed to massacre the Kurds — and threaten Europe?”
In a petition presented to the Ankara prosecutor’s office, Erdogan’s lawyer Huseyin Aydin said the cover was “publicly insulting” to the president — a crime in Turkey.
“It is a typical example of stupidity from a country whose history is full of dramatic examples of genocide and massacres to attempt to teach something to Mr President… and level baseless accusations,” the lawyer said, quoted by Anadolu.
A source in the Ankara public prosecutor’s office told AFP that an investigation had been launched after the complaint.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin took to Twitter on Thursday, writing in French: “The Kurds are not your agents and will never be. Your days of colonisation are over.”
The Turkish army launched a military offensive on October 9 against Kurdish militants in Syria, sparking widespread condemnation from the West — including France — which saw Kurdish forces as an effective tool in the fight against Islamic State jihadists.
French President Emmanuel Macron this month called for an end to Turkey’s offensive which he said risked creating “unbearable humanitarian conditions” while helping IS jihadists “re-emerge in the region”.
On Thursday, Erdogan, without referring explicitly to Le Point, lashed out at France for criticising the Turkish military action.
“First look in the mirror, look at yourself at where you are. There is no such thing in our history,” he said, referring to France’s colonial past.
Last year Le Point said it had suffered harassment and intimidation by Erdogan’s supporters after labelling him “The Dictator” on the front cover.
A poster of the cover was targeted at a newspaper kiosk in the town of Valence.
Macron had then rallied behind the magazine calling the harassment “totally unacceptable”.
“You cannot put a price on freedom of the press, without it, it’s a dictatorship,” he tweeted.