French Muslim Leaders Reject Anti-French Boycott

TheNewArab | ActuArabe (Photo for illustration purpose only)

France has recently witnessed a string of horrific attacks after the reemergence of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, the same cartoons that triggered a violent attack in 2015 on the magazine’s office, killing 11 of its staff. 

Citing freedom of the press, French President Emmanuel Macron did not condemn the cartoons, but rather urged people to avoid a “dialogue of hate.” 

“There is in France a freedom to blaspheme which is attached to the freedom of conscience. I am here to protect all these freedoms. In France, one can criticize a president, governors, blaspheme,” he had once said during a visit to Lebanon in September. 

AP News

After the recent events in France, Muslim-majority countries and societies around the world have gathered in protest and called to boycott French goods and products. 

On Monday, leaders from the French Muslim community denounced the calls to boycott French products in Muslim countries, saying it was “unjustified” and accused those calling for it of “using Islam for political gain,” reported AFP. 

The religious heads of the Great Mosques of Paris, Lyon, and the French Mediterranean island of Reunion, along with the leaders of the Muslim federations condemned terrorism “and all forms of violence in the name of our religion.”

“There are times when we must show solidarity with our country which has suffered unjustified attacks in the past weeks,” they issued in their joint statement.

President of the “Rassemblement des Musulmans de France” (RMF) Anouar Kbibech addresses a press conference, called by several national Muslim federations at the Great Mosque in Paris, November 2, 2020 – Christophe Archambault/AFP

Unjustified attacks such as the beheading of a schoolteacher who showed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a class on freedom of expression, and the attack in a church in Nice that killed 3 people.

Upholding French law, they stated that it “gives a lot of space to freedom of expression” and gives citizens the right “to believe or not believe,” and they condemned all forms of violence and terrorism in the name of Islam. 

Additionally, they denounced calls by foreign leaders that provoked violence against the French people.

According to France24, they expressed indignation at “calls for murder launched by foreign leaders,” reportedly referring to a tweet by the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, who claimed Muslims had “a right to be angry and kill millions of French people.”

The same source reported that “in parts of the [Arab] Gulf, retailers and consumers have boycotted French products.”

On Saturday, Macron told Al-Jazeera during a long interview that he understands the cartoons could be shocking while he lashed out at “lies” that the French state was behind them.

It is to note that boycotting France’s goods and products to impact its economy similarly affects the Muslim population in France, which is estimated to be 5% or 3.350.000 million, according to the latest Special Eurobarometer 493(2019).

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