With a publication of a cartoon by Turkish President Recep Erdogan, adorned with a bomb with a burning fuse, PVV leader Geert Wilders has taken the rage of a large part of Turkey. “Wilders is free to tweet what he wants,” says Mehmet Celik, who runs the daily editors of the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah. “But is such a message worth it if it jeopardizes the relationship with Turkey and two billion Muslims?”
At least President Erdogan thinks the cartoon goes too far. He filed charges against Wilders because the politician with the cartoon would have offended the Turkish head of state. Wilders, in turn, calls Erdogan a “loser” and Prime Minister Mark Rutte finds the declaration unacceptable.
Celik is clearly taking the side of Erdogan. This was on the front page of his English-speaking, government-minded newspaper yesterday:
The headline above the article reads Macron and Wilders, the two faces of hate and racism in Europe. The French President is also part of the diplomatic riot with Turkey: on Saturday Erdogan said in a TV speech that Macron needed “psychological help”. That comment was a response to measures that Macron had announced against Muslim extremism and Islamic schools and organisations in his country. Those measures came after the decapitation of the teacher Samuel Paty by an extremist Muslim.
“ Whether the headline above our article is too harsh, you can discuss that,” says Celik. “It is a news story that expresses the views of Turkish officials. At the same time, we should discuss the messages from Wilders and Macron about Turkey, Erdogan and Islam. How hard are they?”
As a parliamentarian, Wilders does not necessarily express the Dutch position, recognizes Celik. But Wilders, according to him, stands for a bigger phenomenon. “Whats problematic is that Mr. Rutte or Macron are not distanced from extreme right rhetoric.”
“Erdogan takes position as a Muslim leader”
The declaration and fierce remarks from Erdogans side seem to be mainly intended to show that he and his country are not just allowed to say everything. “Wilders will not come to Turkey to appear in court there,” says TCCEIT-correspondent Mitra Nazar. “So it is above all a symbolic action in which Erdogan shows: we are not to mess with.”
Erdogans actions are “political moves with symbolic value,” says Celik. “The European Union is accustomed to a Turkey with limited power. Turkey is no longer that country.”
“ Erdogan occupies a political position in line with his role in the region and the world. He responds to Wilders and Macron as a Muslim leader and leader of a Muslim country.”
Erdogan feels offended more often. Four years ago, the Turkish leader thought that Germany should prosecute a German comedian: