Erdogan lashes out at 'provocative' Charlie Hebdo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Muslims expect respect for the Prophet Mohammed (AFP Photo/Adem Altan) (AFP/File)

Ankara (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday lashed out at Charlie Hebdo for its "provocative" publications about Islam, saying the French satirical weekly incited hatred and racism.

"This magazine (is) notorious for its provocative publications about Muslims, about Christians, about everyone," Erdogan told a meeting of businessmen in Ankara.

"This is not called freedom. This equates to wreaking terror by intervening in the freedom space of others. We should be aware of this. There is no limitless freedom," he said.

In its first issue since the attacks by Islamist gunmen last week on its headquarters that killed 12 people, the magazine featured an image of the Muslim prophet Mohammed weeping on its front cover.

The cover sparked fresh controversy and protests in some parts of the Muslim world, where many find any depiction of the prophet, let alone satirical ones, highly offensive.

Erdogan said Muslims expected respect for their prophet Mohammed the same way as they valued the prophets of Judaism and Christianity.

"They may be atheists. If they are, they will respect what is sacred to me," said Erdogan.

"If they do not, it means provocation which is punishable by laws. What they do is to incite hatred, racism," he added.

In solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet published a four-page pull-out, translated in Turkish, including some Charlie Hebdo cartoons but not the controversial front cover of the prophet that has infuriated Muslims around the world.

A small version of that cartoon however was included twice inside the newspaper to illustrate columns on the subject, prompting prosecutors to open an investigation into two commentators writing for Cumhuriyet.

Erdogan said the publication of the cartoons in predominantly Muslim Turkey was against law.

"Which country do you live in?" asked Erdogan in a thinly-veiled jab at the Turkish daily.

"What you did goes against law ... You are inviting provocation."

The Turkish leader, known for his angry outbursts against Israel, lamented that world leaders who joined a solidarity rally in Paris at the weekend remained silent on last year's Israeli offensive on Gaza.

"The stance taken against the attack... was unfortunately not shown to the massacre of thousands of innocent children, hundreds of thousands of civilians," he said.

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel's offensive on Gaza last year.