France urged Arab countries to stop calls for boycotts of French products while President Emmanual Macron vowed the country would never give in to Islamic radicals. French commodities, including fashion brands, are wildly popular in the Arab world.
Comments made recently by Macron about Islamic militants and his reaction to the October 16 murder of a French teacher by a teenaged Chechen extremist have sparked tension with several Arab countries and populations.
Macron said history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded for showing caricatures deemed insulting to Islam to pupils “because Islamists want our future”, prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to suggest the French leader have “mental checks”.
On September 2, Macron had already presented a draft law to combat “Islamist separatism” in France, an issue that is being widely discussed in the country. Calls for boycotts of French goods have since come from groups in Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar, in particular after Macron vowed not to “give up cartoons” that depict the prophet.
On Sunday, Macron said in a tweet: “We will not give in, ever” to Islamic radicals. “We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate,” the French leader added. His comments came as the French foreign ministry urged countries where boycott calls had been made to stop them and ensure the security of French citizens.
We will not give in, ever.
We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 25, 2020
“Calls for a boycott are groundless and must cease immediately, as must all attacks on our country that have been manipulated by a radical minority,” a ministry statement said. It underscored the danger posed by “calls to demonstrate against France, in terms that are sometimes heinous and spread on social media.”
The ministry insisted that France’s position was “in favour of the freedom of conscience, of expression and of religion, and a rejection of all calls that incite hatred.” Arab foreign ministries are yet to respond to the issue.
Read more: Turkey and France: tensions escalate
Macron added in comments on Twitter that France “cherished” freedom, “guaranteed” equality, and experienced fraternity “intensely” in a reference to the nation’s credo. “Our history is one of fighting tyranny and fanaticism. We will continue,” he said.
Pakistan, Turkey condemn French President Macron
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.
Macron said the teacher “was killed because Islamists want our future.” In a series of tweets, Khan said the remark would sow division.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday also slammed his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, over his policies toward Muslims, saying that he 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 in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.