The backlash over French President Emmanuel Macron’s critique of Islam has intensified after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned his counterpart’s mental health, while Muslims in several countries are demanding a boycott of France.
Marking his second sharp criticism against Macron in two days, Erdogan said on Sunday that the French president had “lost his mind”, prompting France’s foreign minister to recall the country’s ambassador in Ankara.
Macron says Islam ‘in crisis’, prompting backlash from Muslims
After teacher’s killing, French Muslims fear rising Islamophobia
‘Boycott French products’ launched over Macron’s Islam comments
The French debate on Islam was deepened after the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad – previously published by a satirical magazine – in a class on freedom of expression. Muslims believe that any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.
On Friday, the cartoons were projected onto government buildings in France. Earlier this month, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and vowed to present a bill in December to strengthen a law that officially separated church and state in France.
Since Friday, social media has been awash with criticism of Macron in countries from west to east, including the UK, Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
People are pouring out their feelings under the English hashtags #BoycottFrenchProducts and #Islam and #NeverTheProphet in Arabic.
The social media campaign has led to several Arab trade associations to announce their boycotts of French products.
The spat has drawn in world leaders as people in Muslim-majority countries organise street protests.
A poster decrying French President Emmanuel Macron, reading: ‘Clouds are not hurt by the barking of dogs,’ in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter: “Muslims are the primary victims of the ‘cult of hatred’ – empowered by colonial regimes & exported by their own clients. Insulting 1.9B Muslims- & their sanctities – for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech. It only fuels extremism.” Pakistan‘s Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the French ambassador in Islamabad to complain about Macron’s comments.“The seeds of hate that are being cultivated today will polarise the society and have serious consequences,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a statement. The move comes a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content, similar to the website’s measures against Holocaust deniers. Qureshi said Pakistan had urged the United Nations “to take notice and action against the hate-based narrative against Islam.” Demonstrators held protests Sunday in regions of war-torn Syria still outside government control during which they burned pictures of Macron, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.