Leaders of majority Muslim countries are urging their people to boycott French brands, as a row over Islam continues to escalate.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the latest to join in the cry, pleading, “Don’t ever pay attention to French brands. Don’t buy them”.
The boycott is the next step in the growing tensions between France and Islamic nations, as French President Emmanuel Macron demonstrates unwavering support for the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
These cartoons were the same that saw teacher Samuel Paty beheaded near Paris on October 15, after he showed the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in a classroom.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 21, 2020
Any depictions of the prophet – serious or tongue in cheek – are considered extremely offensive by Muslims.
France “will not give up our cartoons,” Mr Macron declared.
On Friday, the cartoons were projected onto government buildings in France, sparking outcry in the Islamic world.
If it catches on and is sustained, the Turkish boycott could have serious ramifications for France.
French cars are some of the highest selling in Turkey. In Kuwait, stores have stripped their shelves of L’ Oreal products.
Retailers in Jordan have plastered displays of French products with caricature posters of President Macron’s face.
There’s also French supermarket chain Carrefour, which has had a boycott hashtag trending on social media.
Analysts say it’s far too early to tell if the boycott will gather enough steam to make a dent in France’s bottom line.
A complicated history
France has always been on the front foot with cracking down on any religion it sees as impeding on its status as a secular country.
In 1905, a law to officially separate church and state in France was introduced – and Mr Macron has vowed to strengthen that law with new powers come December.
In announcing the plan – at the start of October – Mr Macron said Islam was a religion “in crisis” all over the world, and that France’s new laws would push back against “Islamic radicalisation”.
“We will never give in, ever,” Mr Macron said in a tweet on Monday, referring to the ongoing barbs.
We will not give in, ever.
We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 25, 2020
Mr Macron has in the past said secularism is the foundation of a “united France”.
France in 2011 became the first European country to ban the hijab in schools and among the public service.