The Muslim world renewed its anger at Emmanuel Macron today after the French president remained unbowed by Thursday’s terror attack in Nice and vowed that ‘we will not give any ground’ on freedom of expression.
Macron has become the focal point of Islamic fury after defending the blasphemous Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which led to a teacher’s murder in the Paris suburbs two weeks ago.
After three people were murdered in Nice yesterday in the latest in a long line of terror attacks in France, Macron said that France will not ‘give up on our values’ despite fury at the offensive caricatures.
Today, thousands poured out of Friday prayer services to join anti-French protests in Pakistan while the French flag was set on fire in Afghanistan and others voiced their anger in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia by burning effigies of Macron and stamping on pictures of his face.
PAKISTAN: Protesters from the Muslim Students Association in Karachi burn a French flag next to defaced images of Emmanuel Macron during the latest demonstration against the French leader today
BANGLADESH: Muslim protesters hold up an effigy of Emmanuel Macron after Friday prayers today as they take part in a protest calling for the boycott of French products amid fury at Macron’s stance on blasphemous cartoons
INDIA: Muslim protesters shout slogans as they tear a poster of Macron during a protest in Hyderabad on Friday
INDONESIA: People stand on Macron portraits defaced with footprints in Medan in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province – in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population
Macron has launched an impassioned defence of freedom of expression and described teacher Samuel Paty as a ‘quiet hero’ after he was murdered for showing the Prophet Mohammed cartoons to his class.
But Muslim leaders have said that the caricatures are taking free speech too far and accused France of promoting an anti-Islam agenda.
Tens of thousands of Muslims protested in Bangladesh on Friday, chanting slogans such as ‘boycott French products’ and carrying banners calling Macron ‘the world’s biggest terrorist’ as they marched in Dhaka.
In Pakistan, thousands of Muslims in Pakistan poured out of prayer services to voice their anger at Macron after celebrating the Mawlid, the festival marking the birthday of the Prophet.
An estimated 2,000 worshippers took to the streets in the eastern city of Lahore where crowds led by Islamic parties chanted anti-France slogans and clogged major roads en route to a Sufi shrine.
In Multan, a city in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, thousands burned an effigy of Macron and demanded that Pakistan sever ties with France.
More gatherings were planned for later Friday in Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, where police were out in force to prevent possible demonstrations outside the French embassy.
BANGLADESH: A banner with a cross through a French flag and a slogan saying ‘to insult is not freedom’ is held up during a march watched by police in Dhaka today
BANGLADESH: A Macron effigy goes up in flames to the delight of Muslim protesters during a demonstration in Dhaka today
BANGLADESH: A crowd of Muslim worshippers chant slogans after Friday prayers as they call for the boycott of French goods
BANGLADESH: Protesters attack a Macron effigy as they take part in a protest in Dhaka a day after a terror attack in Nice
PAKISTAN: Security personnel put up barbed wire on a road that leads to the French embassy in Islamabad, a day after a guard was stabbed at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia amid high tensions between France and the Muslim world
Other protests, largely organized by Islamists, are expected across the region, including in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
In Afghanistan, members of the Islamist party Hezb-i-Islami set the French flag ablaze.
Its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, warned Macron that if he doesn’t ‘control the situation, we are going to a third world war and Europe will be responsible.’
On Thursday, knife-wielding Tunisian terrorist Brahim Aoussaoui killed three people after bursting into a Catholic church in Nice, wounding several others before he was shot and arrested.
France’s chief anti-terrorism prosecutor said the attacker had arrived in Europe on September 20 in Lampedusa, the Italian island off Tunisia that is a main landing point for migrants from Africa.
Also on Thursday, a Saudi man stabbed and lightly wounded a security guard at the French consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, prompting France to urge its citizens there to be on ‘high alert.’
Macron, 42, has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools, and the country’s security alert is at its highest level.
INDIA: A child looks at a defaced image of Emmanuel Macron, one of several identical portraits lying on a street in Mumbai
INDIA: People shout slogans during protests in Hyderabad today as tensions continue to rise after Thursday’s terror attack
INDONESIA: Protesters voice their anger at the offensive cartoons in Medan today, with one holding a placard celebrating Abdullah Anzorov, the Chechen terrorist who murdered school teacher Samuel Paty near Paris
INDONESIA: Protesters hold up pictures of Macron’s face covered in a footprint during a demonstration in Bandung today
Over the past week, protests and calls to boycott French products have spread rapidly from Bangladesh to Pakistan to Kuwait. Social media has been pulsing with anti-France hashtags.
Muslim leaders, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in particular, have loudly criticised France for what they see as the government’s provocative and anti-Muslim stance.
Erdogan took particular exception after he himself was lampooned in a Charlie Hebdo cartoon which showed him lifting a woman’s skirt to look at her naked backside.
The Turkish president called the cartoonists ‘scoundrels’ and accused the West of wanting to ‘relaunch the Crusades’ by attacking Islam after the image appeared on the front of this week’s magazine.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani also took aim at France by warning that insulting the Prophet would encourage ‘violence and bloodshed’.
Meanwhile Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan called for an end to ‘attacks on Islam’, saying the West should be willing to treat blasphemy in the same way as Holocaust denial.
And in Cairo, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said freedom of expression should stop if it offended more than 1.5billion people, referring to the number of Muslims.