Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is suing Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders for posting a cartoon of him on Twitter.
The state news agency Anadolu reported on Tuesday that Erdoğan’s lawyer filed a criminal complaint to the Ankara prosecutor’s office for “insulting the president,” a crime under Turkish law.
On Saturday, Wilders shared a cartoon depicting Erdoğan as wearing a bomb-shaped hat featuring the logo of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), along with the headline “terrorist.”
Erdogan already hit back at Wilders over the cartoon this weekend, saying: “There is this so-called Dutch deputy who speaks ill of us. Unlike him, we don’t condone racism, and fascists have no place in Turkey.”
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also condemned the cartoon, saying that “the racist losers of Europe have shown their true colors when faced with reality.”
Wilders — whose far-right Freedom Party (PVV) is the biggest opposition force in the Dutch parliament — in turn called Erdogan a “loser” on Twitter. “So the man who calls me a fascist and previously called the whole of the Netherlands fascist and a remnant of Nazism is now going to press charges against me? The world upside down,” he added.
The row comes after Erdoğan sparked a fierce backlash from European leaders this weekend when he questioned French President Emmanuel Macron’s mental health over his stance on Islam.
Since Erdogan took office as president in 2014, thousands of people have been sued and convicted for “insulting the president.” Last month, Turkish news outlet BirGün put the number of people put on trial for “insulting” Erdogan at more than 29,000.