The recent hateful and xenophobic remarks made by French president Emmanuel Macron has sparked fire and anger in Muslims all around the world. Muslim leaders and people are all equally hurt and agonized at this insensitivity shown by Macron towards their religion. Macron has openly justified the right to blasphemy. He has also shown unbolted encouragement for the newspaper Charlie Hebdo as well as the school teacher Samuel Patty who displayed caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This is highly hurtful for Muslims because they hold Muhammad in the highest esteem in their hearts.
Macron supported the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in its trial for posting blasphemous content on Friday 23rd October 2020. After the school teacher Samuel Patty was beheaded by a Muslim refugee on 16th October 2020, Macron had also displayed support for the late teacher’s controversial portrayal of comical content on Islam. He has proposed a bill in French parliament against Islamic Separatism and stated Islam as a religion which is surrounded by crises.
Emmanuel Macron is not the first French person who has shown Islamophobic sentiments. France has a legacy of plunder, bloodshed and Islamophobia. The French invaded Algeria in 1830 and killed around 825,000 indigenous Algerians from 1830-1875 according to Ben Kiernan. The indigenous population dropped by one third from 1830 to 1873. In 1870, France passed the Cremieux Decree in which the Jewish minority in Algeria were granted French citizenship but the majority Muslims were declared second class citizens unless they renounce their culture and religion.
Today, Muslims are portrayed as the ‘enemy within’ in France; a term originally coined by René Gontier for Jews in 1930s. It was imitated by MS Golwalkar who is Narendar Modi’s ideological father in his book ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ where he termed Muslims as India’s internal threat. So its quite ostensible that the concept of Islamophobia and xenophobia is not novel to the French nation.
After the hateful speeches made by Macron, the Arab countries including Qatar, Kuwait, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have boycotted French products from their markets until any further notice. Important and profitable organizations like the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society, Dahiyat al-Thuhr, Wajbah Dairy, Al-Meera Consumer Goods Company and several others have removed French products from their shelves in the supermarkets.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also came out and highly condemned Macron’s statements saying that a true leader should be uniting his nation rather than dividing them on the basis of races and religion. Earlier today, the French ambassador to Pakistan Marc Barety was summoned in the Foreign office where strong protest was recorded on behalf of Pakistani government in front of the ambassador. The special secretary of Europe handed over a letter of protest to Marc Barety.
The Pakistani public is demanding the government to send back the French ambassador to his country after the violent comments made by Macron. The demand by the public seems outright fare and just because Pakistani governments have always been quite enthusiastic with diplomatic ties based on religious sentiments. For instance, Pakistan is the only country in the world whose passport hasn’t allowed travelling to Israel merely because of its disputes with Palestine.
However, it will not be a good impression on the diplomatic front if French ambassador is sent back by the Pakistan government. If French government’s behavior is kept in view, then it appears right to do so because they have recalled their ambassador to Turkey after Erdogan gave some mental health check remarks to Macron. Pakistani government will have to weigh down on the pros and cons of its diplomatic ties as well religious prestige before taking any such step.