Muslim world’s falling-out with France deepens: Live news By Usaid Siddiqui

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Tens of thousands protest in Dhaka, Saudi Arabia weighs in, and Iran summons diplomat over France’s treatment of Islam.

A Palestinian burns a picture depicting French President Emmanuel Macron [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]
A rift between France and Muslim nations is growing after French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month that Islam was in “crisis”.

Tension escalated after French teacher Samuel Paty was killed on October 16 near his school in broad daylight. He had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his students. Since the crime, French officials were perceived as linking the killing to Islam.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised 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.

Malaysia condemns Islamophobia

Malaysia says it is “gravely concerned” over the “growing open hostilities towards Muslims following Paty’s brutal killing.

“As a matter of principle, we strongly condemn any inflammatory rhetoric and provocative acts that seek to defame the religion of Islam,” Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia, whose multi-ethnic population is just over 60 percent Muslim, would work with the international community “to promote mutual respect among religions”.


Turkish President to feature on cover of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

President Erdogan will grace the cover of the next edition of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, the publication said in a tweet, likely escalating a war of words between Erdogan and Western powers over freedom of speech.

The tweet showed a cover featuring a caricature of Erdogan sitting in a chair and lifting the dress of a woman to reveal her backside with the caption “Erdogan – he’s a lot of fun in private.”

The next Charlie Hebdo is set for release on Wednesday.

Erdogan has been at the forefront of a wave of anger from Muslim majority countries after Charlie Hebdo opted to rerelease caricatures of the Islamic prophet Mohammed that had enraged Muslims a decade.

France urges EU to adopt measures against Turkey at next summit

France has urged fellow European Union leaders to adopt measures against Turkey, after President Erdogan questioned President Macron’s mental health and called for a boycott of French goods.

“France is united and Europe is united. At the next European Council, Europe will have to take decisions that will allow it to strengthen the power balance with Turkey to better defend its interests and European values,” Trade Minister Franck Riester told lawmakers, without elaborating.

Turkey’s parliament condemns Macron’s remarks

Turkey’s parliament has condemned French Macron’s defence of caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammed, saying his comments were “sick sick rhetoric” with the potential to cause a global rupture.

Four parties including the ruling AK Party, their allies the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Iyi Party, issued a joint declaration saying Macron’s remarks could cause “destructive conflicts” among people of different beliefs.

“With his reckless actions under the pretence of ‘supporting freedom of expression’, (Macron) is triggering a conflict, rupture whose global repercussions can deeply and negatively impact people of all beliefs,” the four parties said in their joint statement.

US hopes France, Turkey ease tensions

The United States has voiced hope that NATO allies France and Turkey would ease tensions that have soared over President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammad.

“The United States strongly believes that unnecessary Alliance infighting only serves our adversaries,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Kadyrov to Macron: ‘You are forcing people into terrorism’

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyron has said that President Emmanuel Macron was contributing to the radicalisation of people by insisting that caricatures of Prophet Muhammad fell under free speech.

“You are forcing people into terrorism, pushing people towards it, not leaving them any choice, creating the conditions for the growth of extremism in young people’s heads,” Kadyron wrote on Instagram.

“You can boldly call yourself the leader and inspiration of terrorism in your country,” Kadyrov wrote, addressing Macron.”

Parisians more concerned with COVID-19 than Muslim world fallout

As tensions between French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mount amid a debate over Islam and freedom of expression, some in France have offered an eye-roll response, while the French president’s domestic opponents have seized on an opportunity to criticise his failure to address the deepening crisis.

The fallout between the Muslim world and France continued on Tuesday, with anger rising over Macron’s recent speech in which he said Islam was “in crisis” globally, and amid renewed support in the country for the right to display caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

“This isn’t the time for this,” Silouane Tessak, a student living in northeast Paris, told Al Jazeera. “There’s so much going on in the world, especially with the [coronavirus] health crisis. Is this really the appropriate moment for a political spat?”

Others worried the drama was creating an unnecessary distraction as France deals with record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

Read more here.

Boycott of French goods: ‘This is the strongest weapon we have’

In Qatar, shoppers said they supported the decision by some retailers to withdraw French products from their shelves.

“I commend this decision by al Meera and I hope other companies will follow its example,” said Jassim Ibrahim Shahbeek, referring to one of the country’s biggest supermarket chains. “This is the strongest weapon we have right now.”

Omar Mbarak al-Ali, another Doha resident, said the decision was reflective of people’s position, expressing hope the boycott “will reach French officials and certainly make a difference.”

#IStandWithFrance trends in India amid outrage in Muslim world

As Muslims across the world protest and broaden their calls for a boycott of French products, hashtags with a different message are trending in Hindu-majority India.

#IStandWithFrance and #WeStandWithFrance were among the top trends on Indian Twitter on Monday and Tuesday, with thousands expressing their solidarity with France.

Read more here.


France boycott call puts Turkey ‘even further’ from EU

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for a boycott of French goods is a further setback to Turkey’s already stalled bid to join the European Union, the European Commission said.

“Calls for boycott of products of any member state are contrary to the spirit of these obligations and will take Turkey even further away from the European Union,” a spokesman said.

Turkish president files complaint against Dutch MP Wilders

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lodged a criminal complaint against Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders over an insulting tweet.

“Fascism is not in our book, it’s in your book. Social justice is in our book,” Erdogan said on Sunday at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the eastern Malatya province, calling Wilders a “fascist”.

His remarks came after Party for Freedom leader Wilders, known for his anti-Islam stance, shared on Twitter an insulting cartoon of the Turkish president which was denounced by several Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Palestinians protest French insults against Islam

Hundreds of Palestinians staged a protest in the town of Al-Ram in Jerusalem against French President Emmanuel Macron. They believe the French president’s critique of Islam and the country’s support for the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad were insulting.

Protesters waved banners and chanted slogans defending the prophet.

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