Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday sent a belligerent message to French President Emanuel Macron, who has voiced criticism against Islamism in his country, and said that Muslims in Europe are persecuted like the Jews before WWII.
Erdogan claimed that "there is a lynch campaign running against the Muslims which is similar to the one against Jews in Europe before World War II."
The Turkish leader's remarks come following Macron's pledge to fight "Islamist separatism", which he said was threatening to take over some Muslim communities in France. The country has since been shaken by the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist militant, avenging the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.
Erdogan had also called for Turks to boycott French goods and urged European Union leaders to halt Macron's "anti-Islam" agenda. He also accused other European leaders, without naming them, of supporting a "hate campaign against Islam and Muslims", and even called them "fascists" and "Nazis".
"Just like they say, 'Don't buy good with Turkish brands' in France, I am calling to all my citizens from here to never help French brands or buy them," Erdogan said in a speech at the start of a week of activities in Turkey to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad. "European leaders with foresight and morals must break down the walls of fear."
For a third day running, Erdogan said that the French president needed a mental health check, repeating a rebuke that caused France to recall its ambassador from Ankara over the weekend, as he appealed to Turks to shun French products.
France is the 10th biggest source of imports into Turkey and the seventh biggest market for Turkey's exports, according to Turkey's statistical institute. Among major French imports, French autos are among the highest selling cars in Turkey.
Shares in the Turkish unit of French American telecoms equipment company Alcatel Lucent were down 10% on the Istanbul stock exchange after Erdogan's comments.
Turkey and France are both members of the NATO military alliance but have been at odds over issues including Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.