13:53 GMT26 November 2020
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    ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey denies the existence of the "Grey Wolves," described as a far-right militant Turkish nationalist movement, but considers it unacceptable for France to ban its symbol as it hurts freedom of expression and outlaws widespread images, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. 

    The organization, affiliated with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and said to be its paramilitary wing, was outlawed in France earlier in November. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the Grey Wolves were responsible for inciting hatred and committing violent acts. Its logo contains a wolf and an Islamic crescent.

    "There is no such movement called the 'Grey Wolves' which the French government banned. This is the latest manifestation of the inconsistent approach used by France to look into the actions of some people who allegedly belong to this non-existent organization. It is, however, unacceptable to ban symbols that are widespread in many countries of the world and contain nothing illegal," the foreign ministry said in a statement. 

    The statement went on to slam France for double standards when upholding the freedom of expression for some but not for others.

    "This decision shows that the French government has come totally under the influence of Armenian groups ... The freedom of expression of the Turkish community in France should be upheld as part of universal human rights, and we will harshly respond to this decision," the ministry said.

    France and Turkey have been embroiled in a diplomatic row since late October, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasted French leader Emmanuel Macron for the latter's pledge to get tougher on "radical Islam," fight Islamic "separatism" in France and spur the rise of an Islamic "enlightenment" following the October beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty near Paris. Erdogan said Macron should check his mental health over his obsession with Muslims and accused the French leader of infringing on the freedom of religion. France recalled its ambassador following the row. France and Turkey have also been at odds over the latter's support for Azerbaijan in the conflict in the Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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