World Muslim groups urge Macron end ‘divisive rhetoric, reject hatred’
French anger over Turkey's 'rude' Macron comments
France recalls its ambassador after President Erdogan suggests French leader needs "mental check".He said Mr Macron needed a mental health check for pledging to protect secular values and fight radical Islam.
More than 20 European Muslim organisations have called on French President Emmanuel Macron to end his “divisive rhetoric”, as the fallout between France and the Muslim world continues.
In an open letter published on Saturday, the organisations from several countries including the Netherlands, Finland and Italy said the French leader has failed to provide “strong moral leadership” following the killing of a teacher and three worshippers at a church last month.
The most incredible fossils ever unearthed
Fossils have fascinated humankind from time immemorial. These preserved remains from a bygone era transport us through time to discover more about the world before our arrival. In this gallery, discover the most amazing fossils in the world.
“Maligning Islam and your own Muslim citizens, closing mainstream mosques, Muslim and humanitarian rights organisations, and using this as an opportunity to stir up further hatred, has given further encouragement to racists and violent extremists,” the signatories said, urging Macron to rethink what they called his “unilateral assault on Muslims, Islam and Prophet Muhammad”.
“The moral high ground that we invite you to, is to reject hatred, marginalisation and divisive rhetoric, and use your leadership to bring people together.”
Macron in recent weeks drew widespread criticism in much of the Muslim world after defending the right to caricature Prophet Muhammad after the Charlie Hebdo newspaper republished cartoons featuring the prophet in September. The Prophet Muhammad is deeply revered by Muslims and any kind of visual depiction is forbidden in Islam.
What’s behind the Middle East boycott of French products?
Muslim leaders accuse Macron of using divisive rhetoric for political gain and alienating France’s six million Muslims.Bolstered by social media, the campaign asks Arabs and Muslims not to buy French products in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s statements this month describing Islam as a religion in crisis.
The French president reiterated his stance about the cartoons after Samuel Paty, a teacher who showed the caricatures to his pupils in class during a discussion on free speech, was beheaded by an attacker on October 16.
Macron has also faced a backlash from Muslim activists after claiming in a speech a month ago that Islam was “in crisis globally” and announced his plan “to reform Islam” in order to make it more compatible with his country’s republican values.
While Muslims in France have condemned the killing of the teacher, they have also expressed fears of collective punishment amid a government crackdown targeting Islamic organisations and attacks by vigilante groups on mosques.
In their letter, the signatories denounced the French government’s crackdown, including the closure of mosques and charities authorities had accused of inciting hatred, among other things.
Macron and Erdogan, no love lost
The relationship between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan has degenerated in recent months from diplomatic disagreements to annoyance to outright insults. They have clashed over the wars in Syria and Libya, a scramble for natural gas in the Mediterranean and now on Macron's vow to uphold secular values, including the right to mock Islam and other religions, as part of a battle against extremism. -They have clashed over the wars in Syria and Libya, a scramble for natural gas in the Mediterranean and now on Macron's vow to uphold secular values, including the right to mock Islam and other religions, as part of a battle against extremism.
“This opportunistic behaviour undermines the principles of the rule of law by closing down associations based on political motivations and without sound legal procedures,” they said.
In recent days, tens of thousands of people in several Muslim-majority countries have staged anti-France protests, with many officials and demonstrators issuing calls for a boycott of French-made products.
Macron, in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera that was aired on Saturday, said his words were distorted, stressing that political leaders had intentionally led people to believe the caricatures were a creation of the French state.
“The caricatures are not governmental projects, but emerged from free and independent newspapers that are not affiliated with the government,” he said.
“I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. But you must understand my role right now, it’s to do two things: to promote calm and also to protect these rights,” Macron said.
“I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw,” he added.
He also said the “radical Islam” he was trying to fight was a threat to all people, especially Muslims.
“Today in the world there are people who distort Islam and in the name of this religion that they claim to defend, they kill, they slaughter … today there is violence practised by some extremist movements and individuals in the name of Islam,” Macron said. “Of course this is a problem for Islam because Muslims are the first victims,” he added. “More than 80 percent of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and this is a problem for all of us.”
Macron stirs controversy with defence of French secularism .
President Emmanuel Macron has stirred controversy even beyond the Muslim world with a staunch defence of the French model for secularism and integration of minorities in the wake of a string of attacks blamed on Islamist radicals. Defending France's stance in a letter to the FT in which he denied stigmatising Muslims, Macron wrote "France -- we are attacked for this -- is as secular for Muslims as for Christians, Jews, Buddhists and all believers.