‘It causes Muslims pain’: PM Imran explains blasphemy issue to French President Macron

PM Imran's comments follow statements Macron made last week after a French teacher was beheaded near Paris after he had shown cartoons insulting to Islam during a class he was leading on free speech.

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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan accused French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday of “attacking Islam” after the European leader criticized Islam and defended the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to the religion.

Khan’s comments follow statements Macron made last week after a French teacher was beheaded near Paris after he had shown cartoons insulting to Islam during a class he was leading on free speech.

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Macron said the teacher “was killed because Islamists want our future.”

In a series of tweets, Khan said the remark would sow division.

“This is a time when Pres Macron could have put healing touch & denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization & marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization,” Khan wrote.

“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 said on Twitter.

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Macron already sparked controversy earlier this month when he said “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world”.

The French teacher became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material — the same images that sparked a bloody assault by Islamist gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the original publisher, in January 2015.

Caricatures of holy figures are forbidden by Islam.

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Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, where anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures can face the death penalty.

“By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked & hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world,” Khan said.

In an address to the United Nations last month, Khan blasted Charlie Hebdo for re-publishing the cartoons, saying “willful provocations” should be “universally outlawed”.

Khan’s office late Sunday said he had written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the social media giant to take down Islamophobic content.

Facebook last week said it would ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.

“Given the rampant abuse and vilification of Muslims on social media platforms, 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 wrote.

Previous instances

France has witnessed several violent attacks by Islamist militants including the Charlie Hebdo killings in 2015, followed by the bombing at the Bataclan theatre and places around Paris in November of the same year, that left 130 people dead. It all started in 2005 when the cartoons of Islamic holy figures were first published in Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, which spurred protests across Pakistan, reported Reuters.

AFP with additional information from Global Village Space.


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