The recent comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron in connection with the murder of a French history teacher has now caused a global debate, accusing Macron of Islamophobia.

It all started on October 16, when French history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class. Since then, French President Emmanuel Macron has commenced a war against radical Islam in his country. Macron’s statement for waging a determined battle against Islamic terrorism following the assassination of a school teacher has irked criticisms from many countries who consider themselves to be the leader of the Islamic bloc.

Comments made by the French President after the murder of Samuel Paty by a radicalised teen has sparked a massive global debate. Macron’s statement against Islamic radicalisation has been intensified after Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned the French President’s mental health. Also, hashtags like #BoycottFrenchProducts and #BoycottFrance started surfing through the internet, escalating the tensions between France and Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan.

Empty shelves were seen where French products were displayed in Kuwait city.

French school teacher beheading:

The 18-year old assailant was shot by police as they tried to arrest him. Later, he succumbed to injuries. French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded on October 16 outside his school for showing students the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The killing was later named as an Islamist terrorist attack by French President Emmanuel Macron. According to the reports, the killer who beheaded the French history teacher was also in contact with a jihadist in Syria.

According to the reports, the French anti-terror prosecutors said that they treated the assault as “a murder linked to a terrorist organisation.” Soon the incident gained momentum against Islamic violence in France. Earlier also, with the 2015 terror attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the terrorist attack on the Bastille Day in Nice in 2016, the wave of radical Islam was quite visible in France. In the past five years, more than 250 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron also called the incident an Islamist terror attack and clearly stated that there is no longer a place for radical Islam in France. The statement that came from the President gained a lot of criticism from Islamic countries, but Macron adhered to his words and is targeting “radical Islam” with a proposed bill in the parliament of France.

President Macron to fight Islamist separation via law:

Even before the incident of the beheading of the school teacher happened, seeing the wave of radical Islam in France, Emmanuel Macron early during the month, announced his plans to outlaw “Islamic separatism” among communities because he believes that religious laws are taking over the civil laws in the country.  

As per the reports, if the bill gets passed, it will empower the authorities to shut down schools and associations that propagate indoctrination among children. The bill is aimed to improve public services in poor suburbs and will also monitor foreign investment in religious organisations in France.

It has been viewed that France’s working-class suburbs in the past few years are becoming a fertile recruiting ground for Islamist groups, and therefore President Macron once said, “There are few groups present in the country that practice radical forms of Islam and are trying to create a parallel society in France governed by different rules.” He, therefore, believed that it has now become very important to take out this Islamic separatism from their land in order to protect it.

After the bill was introduced, Macron even cleared that the bill isn’t going to target the entire Muslim community of France. He also claimed that the French government since the past few years was trying to tackle the issues relating to radical Islam. It was also reported that the Government of France will also closely work with the French Council of Muslim Faith, which is an elected body intended to provide national representation for the Muslim community.

France trying to build its own brand of Islam:

Islam is the second-widely professed religion in France after Christianity. France has the largest number of Muslim populations in the western world. The French government is widely popular to introduce new laws for Muslims in the country. In 2010, France introduced bans on wearing a veil in public areas.

It is considered that since then, the social and economic alienation of French Muslims has only deepened. And with the passage of the Islamic separatism bill in France, there is a risk of escalating tensions between the Muslim groups in the country and the authorities. Therefore, France will have to move very carefully in order to prevent any such backlash.

Some experts through these laws and regulations believe that France is trying to build its own brand of Islam. This has been done by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in the past and now China is also trying to bring its own version of Islam through sinicising Islam through concentration camps in Xinjiang. Although, France is the first country to bring a law to build its own version of Islam.

Muslim world condemns Macron over his treatment of Islam:

France considers religious satire to be permissible under the freedom of expression, but many Muslims perceive it as an attack on their prophet and consider it as a grave offense. The French President believes in the fact that the beheaded teacher was the victim of stupidity and hate.

Numerous countries in middle-east, which are dominantly Islamic states, calls its citizens to boycott French products and demonstrate against France via social media. Many countries, especially Turkey and Pakistan have now gone into hateful terms with France.

A youth holds a photograph of France’s President Emmanuel Macron, stamped with a shoe mark, during a protest against France in Istanbul.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Emmanuel Macron’s take on radical Islam in the country commented that the French President had “lost his mind”, and has questioned his mental health. In response to all the statements that the President of Turkey made against Emmanuel Macron, the French government recalled their ambassador to Turkey.

Adding fuel to the fire, Pakistan’s parliament also passed a resolution urging the Pakistani government to recall its envoy from Paris over the publication of images of the Prophet Mohammad in France, accusing President Macron of “hate-mongering” against Muslims.

Prime Minister of Pakistan, later tweeted, “It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists. Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens.”

At the same time, Imran Khan also wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content similar to the prohibition put for the Holocaust on the social networking site.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also wrote on Twitter, “Muslims are the primary victims of the ‘cult of hatred’ – empowered by colonial regimes & exported by their own clients. Insulting 1.9 billion Muslims and their sanctities – for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech. It only fuels extremism.”

In Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians burned portraits of Macron, calling his remarks “an attack and an insult against Islam”. While Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister Mohammed al-Khalayleh said that insulting prophets was “not an issue of personal freedom but a crime that encourages violence.”