Protests in front of French Embassy in London condemning French President’s comments

Photograph by Mohammed Salem

After the Friday Prayer, hundreds of Muslims demonstrated in front of the French Embassy in London on Friday 30 October, sending a strong message to French President Emmanuel Macron against his recent comments on Islam, describing it as a “religion in crisis.”

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The French President’s comments and the subsequent public display of cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims have found offensive, led to several Campaigns calling to boycott French goods in many Arab and Islamic countries.

Hashtags #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #NeverTheProphet trended across several Muslim countries such as Palestine, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Activists claim that these campaigns were undertaken to object against the publication of the offensive images under the pretext of freedom of expression in France.

They are urging the French government to apologise for the ‘sacrilegious acts’ and bring in laws to protect religious symbols.

What Happened?

Earlier this month, Emmanuel Macron said that Islam is a religion in “crisis.”

The French President’s comments triggered demonstrations calling to boycott French goods in many Arab and Islamic countries.

Samuel Paty, a French teacher, showed a Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an attempt to teach students the importance of free speech.

On 16 of October 2020, the French teacher Samuel Paty was attacked and beheaded by Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Muslim refugee student of Chechen descent.

French President Emmanuel Macron backed the display of the cartoons, adding that the incident was: “a typical Islamist terrorist attack.”

France closed the Grand Mosque of Pantin following the teacher killing.

Campaigns to boycott French goods are continuing in many Arab and Islamic countries.

On Thursday 29 October, three people were killed in a deadly stabbing in the early hours of the morning at the heart of the Notre-Dame Basilica. The French Police arrested the attacker who was shot.

The French Police shot dead another man who threatened the people of Avignon with a knife.

Official condemnations so far?

The British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab in a statement said: “NATO allies and the wider international community must stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the fundamental values of tolerance and free speech, and we should never give terrorists the gift of dividing us.”

Many Arab and Islamic countries condemned the ‘hate speech’ and ‘abuse’ made by the French President Emmanuel Macron against Islam and Muslims, which involved the Prophet, Muhammad.

In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recalled the French Ambassador after questioning the French President’s mental health.

In Iraq, the Iraqi parliament condemned the insulting of the Prophet Muhammad through the offensive cartoons in France.

In Egypt, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Shaykh Ahmad al-Tayyib, in a statement said: “We don’t accept to see our symbols and holy sites being a victim to cheap bargaining in electoral battles.”

Saudi Arabia also joined in condemning the cartoons.

Words and Reporting: Mohammed Salem | Subbing: Sam Tabahriti

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