What if Shireen Mazari was Pakistan’s Foreign Minister?

The Foreign Ministry of France on Sunday accepted the clarification and apology provided by Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, following a tweet it said was "insulting" towards French President Emmanuel Macron. Read a detailed News Analysis to understand how a tweet could have a serious diplomatic crisis between the two states.

Shireen Mazari

The Foreign Ministry of France on Sunday accepted the clarification and apology provided by Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, following a tweet it said was “insulting” towards French President Emmanuel Macron. As Mazari’s tweet created a serious diplomatic crisis between the two states, analysts and the lay public are discussing her position in the cabinet. “What if she was Pakistan’s defense or foreign minister?” asked a user on Twitter.

Taking to its official Twitter account, the French Embassy thanked Mazari and wrote that “freedom of expression and debates are essential in democracies, based on verified and accurate facts.”

The Ministry had earlier asked Pakistan to rectify a comment made by Mazari in which she likened French President Emmanuel Macron to Nazis from the Second World War.

In a statement issued by the French Embassy in Pakistan, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Agnes von der Muhll said that on November 21, a member of the Pakistani Cabinet “expressed views through social media, in terms that are deeply shocking and insulting for the President of the Republic and for our country.”

“These despicable words are blatant lies, loaded with an ideology of hatred and violence. Such slanderous comments are disgraceful at such a level of responsibility. We reject them strongly,” the statement continued.

The Ministry had reacted after Mazari tweeted an article titled “Forced ID Numbers for Children: France’s Macron Introduces New Charter for French Muslims,” which accused the French President Emmanuel Macron of introducing “draconian laws” for Muslim children in France.

In her tweet, Mazari wrote that “Macron is doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews — Muslim children will get ID numbers (other children won’t) just as Jews were forced to wear the yellow star on their clothing for identification.”

Read More: ‘Islamophobia is a challenge created, developed and aggravated by Muslims’

The publication later amended the article and issued a clarification stating that the law mentioned in the article applies to all children in France, not specifically Muslim children.

In response to the French envoy’s message, minister Shireen Mazari deleted her tweet and issued a clarification on Twitter and admitted her mistake.

“The French Envoy to Pak sent me the following message and as the article I had cited has been corrected by the relevant publication, I have also deleted my tweet on the same,” she tweeted.

Ejaz Haider, former news editor of The Friday Times and foreign/op-ed editor of Daily Times who joined Brookings Institution as a visiting fellow in March 2003, has declared Shireen Mazari as “a foreign and security policies disaster”.

What exactly has happened in France?

In France, tensions over Islam, secularism, and freedom of speech (right to offend) have garnered the attention of scholars and global civil society. As three people were stabbed to death at a church in the French city of Nice, the country raised its national terror alert guidance to its highest “emergency” level, and up to 4,000 military personnel were deployed to boost security at schools, churches, and other places of worship. Other security measures were also taken.

Notably, Macron has sparked outrage across the Muslim world by accusing French Muslims of “separatism” and describing Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world”.

The matter escalated after Macron said his country would not “renounce the caricatures” of Prophet Muhammad in the wake of the killing of a French teacher who showed them to his class.

Read More: How can Muslims stop living in history? GVS Exclusive Interview with Prof. Ahmet T. Kuru

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Macron, saying the French leader needed “mental checks” over his attitude towards Islam.

Across the Muslim world, some leaders have condemned France and Macron, including Saudi Arabia and Iran; while tens of thousands have attended protests in Bangladesh calling for a boycott of French goods.

Analysts are deliberating over an important question: Can solve France’s unstable and complex relationship with Islam and Muslims. The answer is, scholars believe, no. French society has failed to accept Muslims as its integral part which led to feelings of social and cultural marginalization.  French Muslims are struggling to be recognized as a legitimate part of French society. Prof. Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic thought now imprisoned in France after flimsy rape charges leveled against him, always urged the French establishment, intellectuals, and policymakers to recognize their Muslim population and appreciate diversity. However, political expediency seemed to have crushed common sense in Macron’s France.


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