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More outrage in Arab, Muslim world over Macron’s anti-Islam comments

ISTANBUL—Calls to boycott French goods are growing around the world after President Emmanuel Macron’s comments against Islam and Muslims.

Macron on Wednesday accused Muslims of separatism and vowed not to give up cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammed.

The leader’s comments came in response to the beheading of a teacher, Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher, who was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometres northwest of Paris.

Condemnation

On Sunday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned Macron’s statements on Twitter.

“It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists. Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, incl his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam & our Prophet PBUH.”

Khan also wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the site that has been put in place for the Holocaust.

In the letter, shared by the Pakistani government on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” is encouraging extremism and violence across the world – especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.

“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.

“The message of hate must be banned in total. One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others”.

Khan in his letter made reference to the situation in France, where, he said, Islam was being associated with terrorism.

Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun on Sunday said the EU is increasingly becoming dangerous for Muslims.

In a series of tweets, he said that offensive caricatures, separatism against Muslims, and mosque raids isn’t about freedom of expression, but its about reminding Muslims they will never belong in EU.

“Here’s what Europeans against Islam and Muslims need to understand, We won’t go away because you don’t want us, We won’t turn the other cheek when you insult us, We will defend ourselves and our own at all costs.”

Also on Sunday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “When truth is spoken to their faces, Europe’s loser racists show up and try to exploit Islamophobia and xenophobia. Time has come to stop Europe’s spoiled politicians with fascist mindset.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s world renowned Islamic institution denounced Macron’s remarks about Islam. 

Scholars at Al Azhar University on Sunday called Macron’s statement ‘racist’. 

They say that French President’s remarks have nothing to do with the true essence of  Islam.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday slammed Macron over his policies toward Muslims, saying that the French president needed “mental checks.”

“What can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have mental checks,” Erdogan said in a televised address.

On Saturday, Jordan’s foreign ministry said it condemned the “continued publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammed under the pretext of freedom of expression” and any “discriminatory and misleading attempts that seek to link Islam with terrorism.”

It did not directly criticise Macron.

French products boycotted

Macron’s comments have spurred social media hashtags like #BoycottFrenchProducts in several Arab countries and Turkey. 

In Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, a hashtag calling for the boycott of French supermarket retailer Carrefour was the second most trending on Sunday.

Jordan’s opposition Islamic Action Front party called on the French president to apologise for his comments and urged citizens in the kingdom to boycott French goods.

Such boycotts are already underway in Kuwait and Qatar. Many Arab companies began removing French products from their shelves.

Images on social media show workers removing French Kiri and Babybel processed cheese from shelves of supermarkets in Kuwait.

Also in Kuwait, the non-governmental Union of Consumer Co-operative Societies, which groups more than 70 establishments, issued a boycott directive in an October 23 circular.

“All French products have been removed from all Consumer Cooperative Societies,” union head Fahd Al Kishti told Reuters, adding that the move was in response to “repeated insults” against the Prophet and had been taken independently of Kuwait’s government.

In Qatar, Alwajba Dairy Company and Al Meera Consumer Goods Company said they will boycott French products and will provide other alternatives.

Qatar University announced that it postponed its French Cultural Week in protest.

In Doha, an AFP correspondent saw workers stripping shelves of French-made St. Dalfour jams and Saf-Instant yeast in a branch of the Al Meera supermarket chain on Saturday.

Al Meera competes with French supermarket chains Monoprix and Carrefour for market share in the lucrative Qatari grocery sector.

Al Meera and another grocery operator, Souq Al Baladi, released statements late Friday saying they would pull French products from stores until further notice.

They stopped short of explicitly naming Macron or citing his comments, but the Al Meera statement said customer “comments guided our actions”.

Neither operator responded to AFP requests for comment.

Backlash

Before Macron’s comments, he had already sparked a backlash in early October when he said “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world”.

Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council called Macron’s words “irresponsible” on Friday, and said they would “increase the spread of a culture of hatred”.

The same day, Qatar University wrote on Twitter that following “the deliberate abuse of Islam and its symbols”, French Cultural Week would be postponed indefinitely, in a context where 2020 is the France-Qatar year of culture.

Many Jordanians have changed their profiles on Facebook to add the message “Respect Mohammad the Prophet of Allah (God)”.

In Jaffa, a largely Arab town next to Tel Aviv, some 200 people protested after evening prayers on Saturday in front of the residence of France’s ambassador to Israel.

(Courtesy: TRT World)

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