Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Emmanuel Macron needs mental health treatment over his attitude towards Muslims – prompting France to recall its ambassador.
Paris has described Mr Erdogan’s remarks as unacceptably rude, adding: “We are not accepting insults.”
During a party meeting, the Turkish leader had said: “What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level.
“What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?”
Mr Erdogan’s remarks appeared to be in response to the French president declaring war on “Islamist separatism”, which he believes is taking over some Muslim communities.
France has been shaken by the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist radical.
History teacher Samuel Paty had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression. His killing is being investigated as an Islamist terror attack.
Using unusually strong language in its response to Mr Erdogan, the French presidency said: “Excess and rudeness are not a method. We demand Erdogan changes his policy, which is dangerous in all aspects.”
Officials also pointed out that Turkey’s leader did not offer condolences following the teacher’s beheading.
Mr Erdogan has sought to shift Islam into the mainstream of politics in Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim but constitutionally secular country.
Although Turkey and France are both members of NATO, both countries have been at odds over a number of issues – including Syria, Libya, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
France also has sided with Greece and Cyprus in tensions with Turkey over offshore oil and gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, prompting criticism from Ankara.