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Amid France-Turkey row, UK calls on NATO allies to defend free speech

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks during an interview with Reuters in Seoul, South Korea, September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on NATO allies to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on values of tolerance and free speech, in a veiled rebuke to NATO member Turkey which has been calling for a boycott of French goods.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has urged Turks to stop buying French goods and has accused France of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

He is one of several leaders in the Muslim world angry with France over its response to the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad as part of a lesson on free speech.

“The UK stands in solidarity with France and the French people in the wake of the appalling murder of Samuel Paty,” Raab said in a statement. “Terrorism can never and should never be justified.

“NATO allies and the wider international community must stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the fundamental values of tolerance and free speech, and we should never give terrorists the gift of dividing us.”

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Alistair Smout

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