ANKARA: The fallout between France and the Muslim world continues on Tuesday amid dozens of protests across the Muslim countries.
Muslims call for a boycott of French goods, a move supported by President Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who often clashes with Macron. There have also been several street protests across the Muslim world. Some world leaders have criticised Macron’s treatment of Islam, while many in Europe stand by him.
Saudi Arabia Tuesday condemned blasphemous caricatures of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and any attempts to “link Islam with terrorism”.
However, the kingdom did not echo calls by other Muslim-majority countries for action against blasphemous images being displayed in France.
A foreign ministry statement also said Saudi Arabia “condemns every terrorist act, whoever committed it”, in an apparent reference to the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty near Paris this month.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of protesters marched through Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, calling for a boycott of French products and burning an effigy of Macron after he defended the blasphemous caricatures.
Police estimated that more than 40,000 people took part in the march, which was halted before it could get close to the French embassy. Hundreds of officers used a barbed-wire barricade to stop the protesters, who dispersed peacefully.
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the French charge d’affaires over Macron’s comments regarding Islam and Muslims.
A ministry official told the diplomat Iran strongly rejected any insult and disrespect to Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and the pure values of Islam by any person regardless of their position.
Meanwhile, France has warned its citizens living or travelling in several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions because of a surge of anger over the blasphemous caricatures.
French officials have said they will continue to support the right to show the caricatures after an 18-year-old student of Chechen origin killed Samuel Paty, a teacher who showed blasphemous caricatures to his pupils as part of a civics lesson.
Meanwhile, 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 ruling Justice and Development (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.
A rift has widened after two events – the first was Emmanuel Macron’s speech on October 2 in which the French president said Islam was a religion in “crisis” across the world, as he sought support for a new bill to strengthen secularism laws.
The second event, the killing of teacher Samuel Paty, has led to further upset. While Muslims condemned the gruesome daylight beheading, the response from French officials had been perceived as linking Islam with “terrorism”. There are also fears of collective punishment.
Further, because Paty was killed after showing students blasphemous caricatures, officials, including Macron, have been defiant in saying these images would continue to be allowed as a matter of freedom of expression.