Paris: In an apparent attempt to tackle outrage, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he understands the feelings of Muslims who are shocked by cartoons drawn of the Prophet Muhammad. He however added that the “radical Islam” he is trying to fight is a threat to all people, especially Muslims.
Macron’s comments were made during his interview with Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview that aired in full on Saturday. It came amid heightened tensions between the French government and the Muslim world over the cartoons, which the latter considers to be blasphemous.
“The caricatures are not a governmental project, but emerged from free and independent newspapers that are not affiliated with the government,” Macron said.
He was referring to the recent republishing of the caricatures by french magazine Charlie Hebdo. The publication had done it to mark the opening of the trial of a deadly attack against its staff in 2015, wherein the Paris-based publication’s cartoons were cited as a reason for the assault.
Macron had defended the “right to blaspheme” under free speech rights at the time of the republication in September. He however received backlash from Muslim activists on October 2, when he claimed in a speech that Islam was “in a crisis globally”.
Macron had also announced his plan “to reform Islam” in order to make it “more compatible with his country’s republican values”.
The French president reiterated his stance about the cartoons after a French teacher, who showed the caricatures to his pupils in class during a discussion on free speech, was beheaded by an attacker on October 16. Last week, the depictions were projected on French government buildings as well.
Source: Al Jazeera