Turkish officials today railed against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over its cover-page cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accused the publication of sowing "the seeds of hatred and animosity."
The cartoon could further heighten tensions between Turkey and France over French President Emmanuel Macron's firm stance against Islamism following the beheading of a teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a class lesson on free speech.
Leaders from around the Muslim world added their criticism of what they see as attacks on Islam in the West, while France vowed not to back away from defending freedom of expression.
The cartoons that led to the teacher's death were the same drawings that were at the centre of a deadly 2015 extremist attack on Charlie Hebdo's staff.
The Prophet Muhammad cartoons upset many in the Muslim world. But it was Erdogan who led the charge against France and questioned Macron's mental state. France then recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations, a first in French-Turkish diplomatic relations.
"We strongly condemn the publication concerning our president of the French magazine, which has no respect to faith, the sacred and values," Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, wrote on Twitter.
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's office launched an investigation into Charlie Hebdo managers over the cartoon, Tukey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey punishable by up to four years in prison.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry later summoned the French charge d'affaires to protest against the cartoon and to demand that the French authorities "take the necessary political and legal steps" against the drawings, which the ministry said "exceed the boundaries of freedom of expression," Anadolu reported.
Erdogan himself said he had not looked at the drawing and had nothing to say about the "dishonorable" publication.
"My sadness and anger does not stem from the disgusting attack on my person but from the fact that the same (publication) is the source of the impertinent attack on my dear Prophet," Erdogan told his ruling party's legislators in Parliament.
He went on to criticise France and other Europe nations' colonial past saying: "You are murderers!"
Tensions between France and Turkey have mounted in recent months over Turkish actions in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus Mountains region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The cartoon depicted Erdogan in his underwear holding a drink and lifting the skirt of a woman wearing an Islamic dress.
"I condemn this incorrigible French rag's immoral publication concerning our president," Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter.
Macron's stance sparked anti-France protests in Turkey and in other Muslim countries as well as calls for the boycott of French goods.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the country would not back down in the face of what he called "efforts of destabilisation, of intimidation."
"France will never renounce its principles and values, and notably the freedom of expression and freedom of publication" Attal said.
"It was hateful comments toward journalists, toward a newsroom, that led to the bloodshed we have seen in recent years in our country," he said, referring to the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people and was the first in a series of extremist attacks on France.
In Egypt, the country's top Muslim cleric called on the international community to adopt universal legislation criminalising anti-Muslim discrimination and activities.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani also weighed in on the debate.
"If Europe and France are after rights, ethics and culture they have to withdraw from intervention in Muslim affairs," Rouhani said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote letters to the heads of Muslim states, expressing his concern over the "ridicule and mockery" of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and desecration of the Koran in the Western world, especially in Europe.