US hopes France, Turkey ease tensions

·1-min read
Protesters in Istanbul hold a sign showing French President Emmanuel Macron with a shoe print over his face after he defended the right to mock religion following the beheading of a teacher near Paris who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed
Protesters in Istanbul hold a sign showing French President Emmanuel Macron with a shoe print over his face after he defended the right to mock religion following the beheading of a teacher near Paris who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed

The United States voiced hope Tuesday that NATO allies France and Turkey would ease tensions that have soared in a row over the freedom to mock religion.

"The United States strongly believes that unnecessary Alliance infighting only serves our adversaries," a State Department spokesperson said.

The United States did not immediately offer further comment on the row or the merits of Turkey's criticism of France.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led the charge against his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, backing calls in the Islamic world to boycott French goods.

Macron has robustly defended the right to free expression, including to mock religion, amid revulsion in France over the beheading of a schoolteacher who had shown his class controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Many Muslims consider any depictions of their prophet, let alone satirical ones, to be blasphemous.

Relations had already been sour between France and Turkey, with Macron outspoken in siding with Greece and Cyprus as Ankara defiantly explores for energy in disputed Mediterranean waters.

Turkey has also seen friction with the United States, which denounced Ankara's recent testing of a Russian air defense system as incompatible with NATO commitments. But Erdogan has at the same time forged a warm relationship with President Donald Trump.

sct/dw