In a comprehensive interview, the French President accused Ankara and Moscow of stirring up anti-French sentiment in Africa.
French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia and Turkey of spreading anti-French sentiment in Africa by funding people who stir up media resentment against France.
“We must not be naive in this area: many of those who speak, make videos and are present in the French-speaking media are financed by Russia or Turkey,” Macron said in an interview with Jeune Afrique Magazine on Friday. while Moscow and Ankara are accused of “playing with post-colonial resentment”.
He also said Turkey was contributing to misunderstandings about its defense of the right to draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Comments related to the brutal murder last month of a French teacher who was beheaded in broad daylight after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression. Any kind of visual representation of the Prophet is forbidden in Islam.
The murder further exacerbated the already strained relationship between Macron and the Muslim world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed subjecting the French President to “mental control” after Macron described Islam as a religion “in global crisis”.
Macron said, “When I decided to attack radical Islam, my words were distorted. From the Muslim Brotherhood, but also from Turkey, which is able to influence a large part of public opinion, including in sub-Saharan Africa. “
Reaffirming a position that has caused immense controversy in France and beyond in recent months, he added, “I do not attack Islam, I attack Islamist terrorism.”
Tensions between France and Turkey have risen to new levels in recent months due to a number of disputes including Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and now France’s crackdown on “radical Islam”.
France has called for a complete rethinking of the European Union’s relations with Turkey, which under Erdogan has significantly expanded its presence and influence in Africa in recent years.
Russia has played an increasingly active role in Africa as well, with analysts pointing to the presence of the Kremlin-friendly mercenary group Wagner in several countries.
In the far-reaching interview, Macron also ruled out negotiations with armed groups in the Sahel region of Africa, where thousands of armed forces are stationed in France.
“We don’t talk to terrorists. We are fighting, ”said Macron as the debates in France and Africa about the long-term strategy of Operation Barkhane intensified.
He said France could speak to various political and other groups, but not to armed groups “who continue to kill civilians and soldiers, including our soldiers.”
Macron in Guinea
Macron also accused Guinea President Alpha Conde of organizing a referendum on constitutional amendments “just to keep power”, adding that the situation in the country was “serious” following the post-election unrest.
“That’s why I still haven’t sent him a congratulatory letter,” Macron said.
Macron added he hoped to visit Rwanda in 2021 despite ongoing tensions with the country and its President Paul Kagame over the 1994 genocide.