31 Oct, 2020 07:30 PM

French President Emmanuel Macron faces backlash over 'Islamophobia' comments

A child holds a photograph of Macron, stamped with a shoe mark, during a protest in Turkey. Photo / AP

French President ’s response to his country’s recent terror attacks has led to a huge backlash from Muslim leaders around the world and prompted boycotts and violent protests.

Last week, an 18-year-old Islamic extremist beheaded a high school teacher over his disrespectful portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom.

This week, a Muslim terrorist killed three people in a church in Nice, attempting to behead one of them. On Saturday, a Greek Orthodox priest was shot while closing his church in Lyon, although the motive remains unclear.

Macron blamed the attacks on “Islamist separatism” and “the creation of a [Muslim] counter-society” in France.

He said the growing Muslim presence was a danger to France because it held its own laws above all others.

Macron further said that some Muslim parents kept their children out of school, group sports and community activities as a “pretext to teach principles that do not conform to the laws of the republic”.

To stop this, the President announced his plans to pass a legislative proposal that would essentially ban home schooling for children of all ages and prevent foreign-trained imams from leading French mosques.

The goal, the President said, was “to build an Islam in France that can be compatible with the Enlightenment”.

French President Emmanuel Macron faces backlash over 'Islamophobia' comments
French President has had to respond to two terror attacks in his nation in as many weeks. Photo / AP

The comments were slammed as racist by world leaders, including Pakistan’s Prime Minister, and the presidents of Turkey and Egypt.

PM Imran Khan of Pakistan said Macron was blaming all Muslims and not just extremists, tweeting that Macron chose “to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists”.

He also accused Macron of “deliberately [provoking] Muslims, including his own citizens”.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was also outraged, saying Macron’s actions had offended 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.

“We have the right for our feelings not to be hurt and for our values not to be hurt,” he said.

Turkey’s reaction was more extreme. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott on all French goods and denounced Macron personally.

“What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level,” Erdogan said.

“What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand freedom of belief and who behaves in this way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith?”

It wasn’t just leaders of Islamic nations that were annoyed; citizens began to take it out on French citizens.

French President Emmanuel Macron faces backlash over 'Islamophobia' comments
Religious group burns representations of the French flags with defaced images of during a protest in Pakistan. Photo / AP

French President Emmanuel Macron faces backlash over 'Islamophobia' comments
The front page of a hard-line Iranian newspaper, Vatan-e Emrooz, depicting Macron as the devil. Photo / AP

Yesterday, the Associated Press estimated 2000 people tried to march towards the French embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. They were pushed back by police firing tear gas.

A Saudi Arabian man was arrested in Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on Thursday, Saudi state TV reported.

The French embassy said they were subjected to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”. The guard was mostly unharmed and will survive the attack.

“The French embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify.”

In Syria’s Raqqa, an old stronghold of the Islamic State, protesters were heard chanting “Death to France”. They were also hailing the terrorist attackers as heroes and said beheading was an apt punishment for “blasphemers”.

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