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OP-ED: Two wrongs don’t make a right

  • Published at 11:42 pm October 28th, 2020
France protest Macron
File photo: A picture of French President Emmanuel Macron is burnt by Palestinians during a protest, in West Bank on October 27, 2020 Reuters

Macron’s actions have been unjustifiable and inexcusable

French President Emmanuel Macron’s public statement in support of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has fuelled a new debate surrounding free speech and freedom of expression as well as the stance of Macron and his party’s politics within his country. By standing behind the caricatures, the French president and leader of La Republique En March has marked his stance as a right-wing leader in the same ranks as that of Marine Le Pen. This will surely matter in the upcoming French elections of 2022. 

But coming back to the issue of the caricatures, it surely seems that France is on the wrong side of the debate by showing the caricatures on the walls of government buildings in France. The caricature of the prophet is surely blasphemous, and should not be shown to the public. It is true that the beheading of the teacher for showing the caricature was even more in the wrongness of things, but that does not make the image any less hurtful to practicing Muslims. 

By projecting the image onto government buildings, France has officially taken a stance against Islam and its allies in the world. This is not the first time France has done something to demean the religion. Previously, it had imposed a ban on the hijab, the Islamic ritualistic headdress, an affair that goes back decades. 

I understand the stances of France are taken from its long legacy of secularism and separation of church and state, but taking Islam as a common enemy will not do well for its future as a multicultural nation. 

The actions of France, especially the latest showing of defamatory caricatures of the prophet (pbuh) on the walls of government buildings would only fuel extremism within the borders of France and outside of its national territories. 

Extremists can now use these as rallying cries to recruit more soldiers by showing that Islam is truly in danger in the West, and that is why the West must be brought to its knees. The Islamic world, understandably has responded with clear disgust at these developments. 

There have been flag burnings of France, caricature drawings of the French presidents, and calls for a boycott of French products. Now these boycotts do not often carry their weight, but if the whole Muslim world really does boycott French products, it sure would hurt the French economy, which is already ailing from the brunt of Covid. Images of the prophet (pbuh) have always been a sensitive issue for Muslims because they are specifically forbidden in the scripture. 

Charlie Hebdo’s drawings drew an extremist attack and so did its re-showing by a teacher. It is best if these drawings are not shown anymore, let alone be projected on state-owned buildings. Such actions only give a rise to violent extremism. If the French president does not want to understand that and only wants to play politics with the sentiments of billions of Muslims around the world, that is his prerogative. 

Anupam Debashis Roy is a presidium member of Muktiforum. Reach him at [email protected]

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