The tensions between France and the Muslim world continue to grow after French President Macron defended the cartoons that resulted in a murder. An 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov brutally murdered a 47-year-old school teacher, Samuel Paty who showed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the classroom. French President Emmanuel Macron maintained that it was an Islamist terrorist attack which is aimed after Laicite (secularism) in the country.
Police shot the killer soon after the murder and detained seven more people involved in the murder. There is nothing veiled about how Muslims feel about depictions of God (Allah) and his Messengers (especially the last). The dead professor was receiving criticism and threats on regular basis since he showed the pictures on 6th October. The images followed President’s Macron’s comments about regulating Islam in which he stated was in crises.
French President Emmanuel Macron Provoking Anti-Islam Sentiments
The president stood in solidarity with the dead teacher and claimed to continue professor’s work. He did not condemn the revolting images that were used in order to deliver a lecture.
Macron held a ceremony for the teacher in which he hailed him as a hero. Along with the dead’s family, about 400 people attended the ceremony as guests. They brought coffin on the shoulders of the military to the sound of a U2 song called “One”.
The president spoke highly of the professor and said that he was trying to teach students how to become citizens. He claimed that he was killed because Islamists wanted their future and they won’t get it unless people like Paty were alive. He also said that they will not give up their caricatures and drawings of a similar nature.
The way French President is provoking anti-muslim sentiments can result in greater intolerance in French society among the people of different faiths and believes; this every thing is not harmful for peace but also goes very essence of harmony in the French society.
Muslim World Reacts To France
Some of the largest Muslim communities in the world have accused Macron of repressing Islam. They have repeatedly said his campaign could legalize Islamophobia in the country. French Republic is already treating Muslim minority with questionable attitude in the name of Laicite, which is central to national identity of Frenchmen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan furiously insulted Macron’s mental health for relating the professor’s death with terrorism and denying the actual cause of death i.e. the unethical cartoons which infuriated many Muslims. He reckoned that Macron was only pushing the freedom of speech narrative and didn’t care how it could impact someone’s freedom of belief and freedom of practicing a religion.
Erdogan said this move from Macron further promoted Islamophobia which is already thriving in Western Europe and India. In that light, he has initiated a call to ban all French products from the markets. Turkey and France are both NATO members which are responsible for facilitating civil war in Libya. Both countries are also supporting opposing sides in the ongoing clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan appealed numerous times to stop Islamophobic attack on Muslims including unnecessary depictions, burning and tearing of Quran, or hateful speeches. It is because such condemnable activities can most probably lead to radicalization of Muslims as seen in Paty’s case.
Khan also wrote a letter to Facebook requesting to ban Islamophobia just like talking about Jewish Holocaust is banned for the public. He thinks that unsolicited behavior on social media is the major cause of the rise in Islamophobia.
Senator Shahzad Waseem moved a resolution against the blasphemous caricatures which was unanimously passed by the senate.
Saudi Arabian state media carried the condemnation on behalf of whole country. The statement read that freedom of expression and culture meant nothing if it harmed coexistence. It was supposed to promote peace, respect, and tolerance while rejecting hatred, violence, and extremism.
Iran summoned a French diplomat to raise concern over this development. Foreign Minister Javed Zarif has accused the enthusiasts and supporters of colonialism of promoting hatred towards Muslims. He alleged that insulting a minority is just an abuse of freedom of speech which will bring no good but can surely result in a violent reaction from the one being abused.
Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani acknowledged that the French have suffered a history of terrorism from radical Islamists. He condemned those attacks and simultaneously condemned how Macron responded to the incident. He said that the President directly implied his support for the same revolting acts that have vilified Muslims.
Political And Economic Sanctions Due To Cartoon Controversy
Muslims from other nations are calling for a ban on French products as called by Erdogan. They are accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of using divisive strategy and sidelining the sentiments of 6 million French Muslims, the largest number of the Muslim population in Western Europe. Social media users bolstered this ban campaign and encouraged other Muslims to do so. There have also been protests in Syria, Libya, Bangladesh, and Iraq. Other countries like Kuwait, Qatar, and Jordan have removed French products from their shops.
Where Is French Laicite?
Everybody is aware of the marginalization of Muslim population in France. Just like in India, Muslim community is ridiculed, mocked, and beaten for practicing a different lifestyle than others i.e. wearing full-body clothes, offering prayers etc. An American journalist showed segments in which Muslims were targeted by the European giant. Reportedly, CCIF (Collective against Islamophobia in France) received 1,043 complaints of Islamophobic incidents in 789 forms.
French nationalists claim that they hate Muslims because they want to take their land. However, reality suggests that their fear is irrelevant. According to 16th century history, the French were one of the most aggressive colonists that conquered various nations strategically and disrupted their autonomy. Many of them were Muslim settlements.
By the denying the value of Muslim sentiments, France showed its own identity crises which was supposed to be stagnant due to Laicite. A reaction from 18-year-old killer was unsolicited on many levels but for a majority of Muslims, it can be a common response on systematic Islamophobic attacks. The problem with ongoing rhetoric about tolerance is that those who target the faith and belief system, expect Muslims for tolerating it. Some Muslims might be able to tolerate such offence but others can react with utter vengeance, especially when it is directed towards the last Prophet (PBUH)
The same thing is happening in India where tolerance is extinct. Last year, India passed a citizenship amendment bill to marginalize the Muslim minority and became a rigid Hindu nationalist state from being secular. France joined this blatant hypocrisy by supporting rampant drawings of the Prophet (PBUH). French President could have handled the situation differently if he wanted to preserve Laicite but all he did was promote its opposite, separatism.
The murder of any person on any grounds is highly condemnable; what is the most problematic is the way French President Emmanuel Macron has responded to the situation. Instead of addressing the root cause of that murdered and making attempt to make France a peaceful country where people from different beliefs can live in harmony, the President is further provoking the sentiments against the followers of a religion. Such a behavior can not only polarise the French society but it can also provoke extremism; the very thing which President seems to be against but it appears that he is not serious and using this just as a political tool.