Key Allies, Pakistan and Turkey have slammed France over a “systematic” Islamophobic campaign in the guise of freedom of expression.
Pakistan’s upper and lower houses of parliament adopted resolutions Monday denouncing France over a “state-sponsored” Islamophobic campaign. The treasury and opposition lawmakers unanimously voted for the two separate resolutions, which strongly condemned the latest attempt of “illegal” and “Islamophobic” acts of republication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in France.
The resolution was introduced in the National Assembly by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi which strongly condemned recent derogatory remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron.
It urged the government to recall its ambassador from France in protest against the sacrilege of Prophet Muhammad. It also called on the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to continue to monitor the phenomenon of Islamophobia and take necessary actions for presenting Islamic countries’ common position on the matter, especially the issue of blasphemous caricatures.
The resolution also called on the UN to immediately initiate a global dialogue for inter-faith harmony and countering the rising trend of Islamophobia.
In the Senate, a similar resolution introduced by the Leader of the House, Shahzad Waseem, reaffirmed that the love for Prophet Muhammad is “beyond any doubt a part of our faith and no Muslim can tolerate such horrendous acts.”
Representing the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and the Muslim world as a whole, the upper house expressed serious concerns over such “vile” incidents which provoke Muslim reaction while also causing “grievous injury to Muslim sentiments.”
The lawmakers urged the parliaments and international community to come up with a framework and means to stop the recurrence of such acts in the future so as to ensure peaceful coexistence as well as social and interfaith harmony.
Pakistani Christians Condemn France
Pakistani Christians also denounced French authorities for projecting the blasphemous caricatures on government buildings, which took place on Oct. 21 as part of a tribute to history teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded in a Paris suburb earlier this month by a student days after showing the caricatures in a class on freedom of speech.
Addressing a press conference at the Church of Pakistan in the northeastern city of Lahore, Bishop Azad Marshall urged the UN to pass a law to protect all religions in the world. “We vehemently denounce the recent events, which have hurt Muslims across the globe. Christians never support such hateful acts, which are detrimental to world peace,” Marshall said.
Pakistani Christians, he said, stand alongside their Muslim brothers and reject the provocations by France.
Echoing Marshall’s views, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, chairman of the National Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism, regretted that France is supporting such activities, which would create a gap between followers of diverse faiths.
“A liberal society doesn’t mean increasing difficulties for the public and hurting their sentiments, especially their religious beliefs,” he said in a statement. “Respect and interfaith harmony are the need of the hour.”
Attacks By Macron
In recent weeks, President Macron has attacked Islam and the Muslim community, accusing Muslims of “separatism.” He described Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world.”
This coincided with a provocative move by Charlie Hebdo, a left-wing French satirical magazine infamous for publishing anti-Islamic caricatures which have drawn widespread anger and outrage across the Muslim world.
Earlier this year, it republished cartoons insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad. The caricatures were first published in 2006 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, sparking a wave of protests.
Turkey Slams France
Turkey’s presidential spokesman slammed French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday over his controversial plans to crack down on what he dubbed “Islamist separatism” in France.
“President Macron’s recent anti-Islam rhetoric is yet another example of a desperate European politician vying for relevance,” Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
“His flailing attempt to assume leadership in Europe is driving his promotion of Islamophobia, xenophobia, and his attacks on our President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” he added.
Altun stressed that Macron is discriminating against Muslims in France and in Europe while also doing this for a political purpose, “trying to instrumentalize fears and ignorance.”
“Macron is following the old Fascist playbook that targeted Jews in Europe in this manner,” he said.
“We need to call out such irresponsible figures whose statements and actions are not simply the effect but the cause of hostility against Islam. Politicians like Macron are savoring opportunities to condemn a whole religion in order to cover their failings at the home front.”
Altun underlined that targeting Muslims seems much easier and politically expedient for European leaders like Macron, “who should be focusing on finding the culprits of terrorism in his country instead of projecting his failure to protect French citizens onto the great civilization of Islam.”
In seeking geopolitical relevance in the Mediterranean, Macron has already tried to present Muslims as simply the southern neighbours of Europe, Altun said. “In reality, Muslims and Turkey are very much in the center of the Mediterranean region and will not go away!” he added.
“Macron is very much aware that what he calls Islamic separatism is a farce. Muslims have been living in the Mediterranean and Europe for centuries. He is the one trying to sow discord and division among co-habitants in this region,” he underscored.
Macron is attacking Turkey and Erdogan “because they are the living proof that the Mediterranean region is not the property or colonies of Europe.”
“When he attacks us, it is because we consistently confront his racist and colonialist mindset.
Fine line between Islamophobia, anti-Semitism
“To be clear, Macron’s rhetoric and actions are anathemas to ideals and principles that Europe claims to aspire. Freedom of speech, multiculturalism, tolerance, and respect for religion are being attacked by Macron himself. This is a grave threat for Europe,” Altun said.
He also stressed that there is a very fine line between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
“They are driven by similar racist and fear-mongering impulses. When Macron is one of the leading voices of Islamophobia today, we will not be surprised when he utters anti-Semitic statements tomorrow!” he said.
“This situation does not bode well for the relations between the EU and the Muslim world. Muslims’ perception of Europe will only deteriorate further, but they will not respond in kind. Muslims will not fall into Macron’s trap of hatred and division.”
“Once again, we condemn the killing of the French teacher in the strongest terms. Islam is a religion of peace and it cannot be used to justify taking any lives,” Altun concluded.