The French government on Wednesday banned the activities in France of a Turkish ultranationalist group known as the Grey Wolves, prompting a negative reaction from the Turkish foreign ministry, which described the group as “imaginary.”
The ban was approved during a weekly Cabinet meeting, as announced by government spokesperson Gabriel Attal.
France’s move to ban the controversial group came after a center dedicated to the memory of those who died in the mass killings of Armenians during World War I was defaced over the weekend with graffiti, including the name of the Grey Wolves. The group is seen as a wing of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is allied with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In a statement on Wednesday the Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted to the French decision on the Grey Wolves, saying that there is actually no such movement with the name “Grey Wolves.”
“Attempts to resort to imaginary decisions presuming the existence of such a movement or formation based on some individuals and their actions reflects the latest contradictory psychology that this country lives in,” said the ministry’s statement.
The ministry said while addressing this “imaginary” group, “it is unacceptable to ban symbols that are used widely in many countries and bearing no illegal aspects.”
“It is unfortunate that those who advocate that the freedom of expression cannot be restricted in any way when it comes to themselves easily restrict this freedom when it relates to others. This hypocritical comprehension is the latest example of the double standard approach that we are now used to see,” added the ministry, accusing the French government of being a hostage of Armenian circles.
Turkey’s MHP, which had earlier denied any links to the Grey Wolves group in France, has not made any statement regarding the French decision to ban the group.
The Grey Wolves, regarded as the militant wing of the MHP, caused havoc on the streets of Turkey during the 1970s and 1980s when its members frequently clashed with leftist activists.
People affiliated with the Grey Wolves, known as Bozkurtlar in Turkish, and MHP traditionally show their loyalty with a hand gesture in which the little and index fingers are raised.
Mehmet Ali Ağca, the Turkish nationalist who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, had also been linked to the movement.