The Muslim community is in rages all across the globe after the recent controversial remarks made by the French president Emmanuel Macron. This is not the first time that Macron has expressed his hateful and Islamophobic comments. He has always endorsed the concept of right to blasphemy in France because it is a secular state. On 23rd October 2020, he favored the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in the Charlie Hebdo trial which has outraged Muslims around the world. The weekly Charlie Hebdo republished the blasmphemous content at the day of trial which further added fuel to the burning fire.
Charlie Hebdo is a French newspaper which published caricatures of the Last prophet and the most prestigious religious figure for Muslims Muhammad in 2015. It had resulted in the massacre of a 17 people linked to the newspaper by Islamic extremists. Most recently, a school teacher had shown comical photos of Muhammad in his class which had enraged certain Muslim students of his class. Following this satirical move, he was beheaded by an 18-year-old Muslim refugee citing this as extremely disrespectful towards his religion.
Earlier this month, Macron made a speech on 2nd October 2020 in which he had proposed a legislation to fight Islamic Separatism. If this bill gets passed in the parliament, it would essentially ban home-schooling of all children aged 3 and up and prevent foreign-trained imams from leading French mosques. Macron wants to reestablish Islam on terms of his so-called secularism and enlightenment. On Friday 23rd October 2020, he came out again with the hate speech and declared it as a freedom of speech citing that the right to blasphemy is as justified as being a French citizen. He also called Islam as a religion being in Crises.
This has induced outrageous and infuriating reactions from all across the Muslim world. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan orchestrated his criticism at French president for encouraging Islamophobia. He said that a true leader unites his nation rather than dividing them. Imran Khan also sought a ban on Islamophobic content on Facebook. He has written a letter to the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg in which he said that the growing Islamophobia is encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world specially through the use of social media platforms like Facebook.
Pakistan’s Opposition leaders also joined protest against Islamophobia. Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz PML-N’s leaders Maryam Nawaz, former Opposition leader Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, Jamaat e Islami Pakistan’s Siraj ul Haq and the Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari all voiced out their concerns on the growing Islamophobia and hate speech in France.
The Bangladeshi youth has also come out for protesting against the French government’s encouragement on provocation against Islam. They have called out for boycotting French products. The Islamic Youth Movement, a religious group, staged a rally in the capital Dhaka. They rejected the provocative activities in the name of freedom, pushing for cutting of diplomatic ties with France. A virtual campaign on platforms including Facebook and Twitter has also gained momentum. Meanwhile, the Islami Andolan Bangladesh, a religious party, announced it will hold a protest outside the French embassy in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The General Secretariat of the Oragnization of Islamic Countries OIC also condemned the continued attacks and incitement against Muslim sentiments and blasphemy against Holy Prophet Muhammad. A statement by the group criticized the discourse from certain French politicians, which it deems to be harmful to the Muslim-French relations, hate-mongering and only serving partisan political interests. It also denounced the murder of the French teacher Samuel Patty who was beheaded because of his satirical comics on 16th October 2020. OIC fully rejected the incitement against Islam, its symbols and linking Islam and Muslims with extremist activities.
The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted to French President Macron’s hate speech by saying that he needs a mental health treatment on his hateful sentiments towards Islam. After his statement, France has recalled its ambassador to Turkey on Sunday 25th October 2020. This can be a huge blow to French-Turkish relations in the already disputed Greece Turkey conflict.
Furthermore, various Arab Associations have announced the boycott of French products as a protest to Macron’s statements. In Kuwait, the chairman and the members of the board of directors of the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society decided to boycott all French products and to remove them from supermarket shelves. The Dahiyat al-Thuhr association took the same step saying that they have decided to remove all French products from the market and branches until any further notice based on Macron’s speech.
In Qatar, the Wajbah Dairy Company announced a boycott of French products and pledged to provide alternatives according to their twitter account. Al-Meera Consumer Goods Company which is a Qatari joint stock company, announced on their Twitter about the withdrawal of French products from their shelves until further notice. Qatar University also joined the campaign. Its administration has postponed a French Cultural Week event indefinitely citing the deliberate abuse of Islam and its symbols.
The Gulf Cooperation Council GCC described Macron’s statements as irresponsible and said they are aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among people. Al-Hjraf called on world leaders, thinkers and opinion leaders to reject hate speech and contempt of religions and their symbols and to respect the feelings of Muslims instead of falling captive to Islamophobia.
In a statement, Kuwait’s foreign ministry warned against the support of abuses and discriminatory policies that link Islam to terrorism, saying it represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world.
France has a history of plunder, bloodshed and blasphemy under the disguise of its apparent secularism and enlightenment. But in actual, this freedom of speech has always resulted in hate speech specially against Islam. Islamophobia has been on the rise since 9/11 attacks and when prominent world leaders like Emmanuel Macron comes out and represents Islamophobic sentiments, it further encourages hate and extremism. It is the rightful responsibility of world leaders to be sensitive towards religions rather than being thick-skinned humans.