Erdogan supporters force removal of French weekly from newsstands over ‘Dictator’ cover
Supporters of the Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have purportedly made it a tough week for the French magazine Le Point by forcefully removing the advertisements for the weekly from newsstands in France over a controversial cover that described the Turkish leader as a “Dictator.”
The weekly wrote on its website on Monday that it had suffered harassment and intimidation by purported supporters of Erdogan, who had been depicted as a “Dictator” on its cover of Thursday’s issue.
“After a week of harassment, insults, intimidation and anti-Semitic slurs and threats towards us on social media, now has come the moment when supporters of the AKP [Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party] are attacking symbols of freedom of expression and diversity in the press,” Le Point said.
Over the weekend, police were deployed in the Pontet, the most populous suburb of the southern city of Avignon, after a group of alleged pro-Erdogan activists attempted to either remove or cover up advertisements for the left-leaning magazine at newsstands. Videos of the incident were widely circulated on social media on Friday evening and into Saturday.
Separately, another poster of Le Point cover was lashed out at another newspaper kiosk in the southeastern town of valence on Sunday, the purported footage of which has been embedded below.
In its latest edition, the French weekly published an investigation into the Turkish leader, wondering in an editorial, “Is Erdogan a new Hitler?”
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin reacted to the cover in a tweet, saying, “We know the attacks. We know what their purpose is. People and the oppressed people see what’s happening.”
He also said that “The days of Turkey receiving orders from the West are over. You cannot bring these days back by saying ‘Dictator’.”
Le Point’s controversial issue comes ahead of the presidential election in Turkey, set for June 24, with the Turkish president running for a second term.
Erdogan announced snap elections on April 18, saying holding the votes more than a year earlier than planned was needed to enable his party to make the constitutional changes narrowly approved in a last year referendum, which will give him sweeping new powers.
He has also faced increasing criticism over his championing of the presidency system as many fear it could lead to his authoritarian rule in the Anatolian country.
Those fears have been exacerbated by an ongoing crackdown against people whom the government deems as linked to a failed coup two years ago or those alleged to have helped Kurdish militancy in the country.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara to have masterminded the coup, while more than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations since Erdogan intensified the crackdown following the botched putsch.