Emmanuel Macron backing Prophet’s cartoons irks Islamic nations

Paris: Anger escalated across the Islamic world after French President Emmanuel Macron promised France would not “renounce the caricatures” of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which lead to the murder of a high-school teacher Samuel Paty (47) last week. At a national tribute to the murdered teacher, Macron commented that there is no longer a place for ‘radical Islam’ in France.

Macron declared a war on radical Islam irked those several Islamic nations, with Turkey leading them. Furious riposte that emerged on Friday on social media under Arabic hashtags gained momentum over the weekend.

After Erdogan criticized Macron directly, saying “Go and get your mental health tested”, Paris recalled its ambassador to Ankara and responded that the comment was “unacceptable”. It accused Turkey of “whipping up hatred” against France. On Monday, Erdogan called for a complete boycott of French products in Turkey, saying: “Never give credit to French-labeled goods, don’t buy them.” he also compared the treatment of Muslims in Europe to that of Jews before World War II, saying they were the object of a “lynching campaign.”

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Paty, 47, was killed after he showed his class drawings of the prophet during a debate on free speech. Paty showed the class the images of Muhammad alongside other caricatures and cartoons of different subjects as part of a discussion, after inviting any pupils who might be offended to look away.

Along with Turkey, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait are among Islamic countries to criticize the publication of the caricatures, which originally appeared in France in Charlie Hebdo, sparking a terrorist attack on the satirical newspaper in 2015 that killed 12 people.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also denounced the “suggestions of certain French leaders … that risk submerging French-Muslim relations”. While condemning “all acts of terror in the name of religion” it attacked the “continued publication of blasphemous cartoons” of the prophet.

Pakistan also criticized France on Sunday, with the Prime Minister Imran Khan accusing Macron of “attacking Islam” by encouraging the publication of caricatures of Muhammad. In Israel, about 200 people gathered in front of the French embassy to condemn Macron. In Gaza, Palestinian protesters burned photos of the French president.

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EU rallies behind France

As the backlash over France’s reaction widened, European leaders rallied behind Macron. “They are defamatory comments that are completely unacceptable, particularly against the backdrop of the horrific murder of the French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist fanatic,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

The prime ministers of Italy, the Netherlands and Greece also expressed support for France, as did European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Meanwhile, an Indian Muslim body, Indians for Secular Democracy condemned the murder of Paty unequivocally. “We condemn not only the man responsible for this barbaric act but all those who had any role in the instigation of the crime as also all those who seek to justify it,” a civil rights activist said, speaking at a webinar organized by the forum.

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