Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for his remarks on the beheading of a teacher near Paris last week. Khan accused Macron of “attacking Islam” and creating polarisation in society.
The French teacher had showed caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in class before the attack. Macron had called the incident an “Islamist attack” and urged citizens to stand up against extremism. “One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught ... the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” he had said. Macron also said that the “Islamists want our future”, according to AFP.
Khan spoke out against Macron’s response to the killing in a series of tweets. “Hallmark of a leader is he unites human beings, as [Nelson] Mandela did, rather than dividing them,” he said. “This is a time when Pres [President] Macron could have put healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalisation.”
The Pakistani prime minister added that Macron had hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world. “Through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and our Prophet, by attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world,” he said.
Khan said that ignorant statements will only fuel hatred in the world. “The last thing the world wants or needs is further polarisation,” he said. “Public statements based on ignorance will create more hate, Islamophobia and space for extremists.
The beheading of the teacher had triggered widespread unrest in France. Anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard had said last week that the government will prosecute seven people, including two teenagers, for the killing. The police had gunned down the attacker.
This was the second terrorism-related incident to take place in France in less than a month. In September, at least two people were injured in a knife attack near the former office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
The incident happened amid the trial of fourteen people in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack. Twelve people, including eight employees of the magazine, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherie Kouachi stormed Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters. Al-Qaeda’s branch in the Arabian Peninsula had claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was revenge for the cartoons the magazine had published of Prophet Mohammed.
Khan urges Facebook to ban Islamophobic content
Hours after lashing out at Macron, Khan urged social media giant Facebook to ban Islamophobic content. In a letter to the platform’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” was instigating violence across the world.
“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan told Zuckerberg.
Khan said that the social media platform should not display bias in censoring content. “One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said. “This is in itself reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.