By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The power of the cartoon seems to rival that of a division or more of soldiers, an economic boycott, or even a well-funded bribe. It only took one such cartoon to enrage Turkey such a degree that it effectively caused a worsening of diplomatic relations with France. We have to wonder what is more significant in these interesting times: the strength wielded by a free press satire newspaper, or how easily a dictator can be manipulated as a result of his unchecked ego and power.
The row between nations stemmed from a rather risque cover on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper of October 28th, 2020. A caricature depicts a randy, lecherous looking President Erdoğan sitting in his underwear upon an armchair while lifting the hijab of a laughing woman to expose her bare buttocks. The Turk seemingly takes delight in this, saying “Ouuuh! Le prophète!” A caption reads: “Erdogan dans le privé, il est très drôle” (A possible translation is “Erdoğan in the private sector, he is very funny.” )
Turkey and its president released the Kraken of its bureaucracy, prosecutors, and diplomats to counter the Charlie Hebdo cartoon threat, with his Communications Directorate proclaiming, “Our people should have no doubt that all necessary legal and diplomatic steps will be taken against the caricature in question. Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end with reason but determination.”. Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote “Macron’s anti-Muslim agenda is bearing fruit! We condemn this most disgusting effort by this publication to spread its cultural racism and hatred.” Yet not to be outdone or outshined by his own underlings, President Erdoğan was more succinct and measured in his learned analysis, voicing a week ago that French President Macron ‘needed a mental health check’ for his pledging to defend secular values and fight radical Islam, prompting France to recall its ambassador.
Erdoğan could add to that mountain of wisdom by lending an ear to his cohort Saddam Hussein who during trial proceedings memorably orated, “The lion does not care about a monkey laughing at him from a tree.” and just let it go.