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Emmanuel Macron Turkey hits back at French President over 'dictator' magazine cover

Turkey on Tuesday angrily hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron over his backing to the right of freedom of expression for a weekly magazine that called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "The dictator".

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is aiming to further tighten his grip on the country with the June 24 elections play

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is aiming to further tighten his grip on the country with the June 24 elections

(AFP)

Turkey on Tuesday angrily hit back at French President Emmanuel Macron over his backing to the right of freedom of expression for a weekly magazine that called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "The dictator".

In a tweet, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also appeared to back pro-Erdogan activists in France who tried to tear down images of the front cover story on newsstands.

"Democracy is not just limited to accepting insults, curses and lies by one side but also taking into account the point of view and sensitivities of the other," Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter in reply to a tweet by Macron.

"What goes beyond that is hypocrisy. And it's in response to that that the Turkish community in France has expressed its civilian and democratic reaction," he added.

A group of pro-Erdogan activists targeted several newsstands in the southern French city of Avignon last weekend, attempting to remove and cover up advertisements for Le Point, the magazine said.

Another poster of the front cover -- a portrait of Erdogan with the headline "The Dictator. How far will Erdogan go?" -- was also targeted by the activists.

Macron had written on Twitter that the actions of the pro-Erdogan supporters were "totally unacceptable" and such posters could not be removed just because they displeased "the enemies of liberty".

"You cannot put a price on freedom of the press, without it, it's dictatorship," he said.

The left-leaning weekly, one of France's most popular news magazines, published an investigation into the Turkish strongman in its latest edition which also included an editorial asking: "Is Erdogan a new Hitler?".

The controversy comes as Erdogan eyes full powers of an executive presidency in June 24 elections to further tighten his grip on the country which he has ruled since 2003 first as prime minister and then head of state.

This is not the first time that Ankara has expressed outrage over a magazine cover in Europe -- in September 2016 Turkey slammed a special edition of German news magazine Der Spiegel that also described Erdogan as a dictator and had the headline "a country loses its freedom".

Ties between Ankara and Paris started the year warmly with a visit by Erdogan to France for a bilateral summit with Macron but have chilled in recent months over disputes on Syria and the Kurds.

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