Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is taking legal action against Charlie Hebdo after the French satirical magazine mocked him with a front-page cartoon on Wednesday.
The caricature depicts Erdoğan in underwear, lifting the skirt of a headscarf-wearing woman to expose her naked backside, while exclaiming “Ooh! The prophet.” Both figures are shown holding what appears to be alcohol, which is seen as forbidden by most observant Muslims.
Erdoğan’s lawyer filed a criminal complaint with the Ankara prosecutor’s office on Wednesday, stating the cartoon amounted to “criminal libel” that is “not covered by freedom of expression,” according to state news agency Anadolu.
Turkish prosecutors had already launched an investigation into the magazine for “insulting the president,” a crime under Turkish law.
The row will likely add to escalating tensions between Turkey and France.
Ankara has accused France of state-sanctioned Islamophobia in the aftermath of the killing of a French teacher who had shown his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad; Erdoğan sparked a fierce backlash from European leaders when he insulted French President Emmanuel Macron and called for a boycott of French goods this week. France has recalled its ambassador to Ankara.
Turkey’s communications directorate said Ankara would take “all necessary legal and diplomatic steps” regarding the cartoons, adding: “Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end with reason but determination.”
Erdoğan on Wednesday said he had not seen the cartoon himself because he did not want to “give credit to such immoral publications.”
Meanwhile, the French government is backing Charlie Hebdo — saying that “France will never renounce its principles and values and in particular freedom of expression and freedom of publication.”