KATSINA STATE MUSLIM COMMUNITY FROWNS AT FRANCE’S PROVOCATION AGAINST ISLAM
Being a Press Conference to express Katsina State Muslim Community’s anger and rejection against the flagrant and planned provocation against Islam and its Prophet (S.AW) by Charlie Hebdo magazine, Emmanuel Macron and French Republic
Monday, 23rd Rabi’ al Awwal, 1442AH/9th November, 2020
Charlie Hebdo, a French controversial satirical magazine republished caricatures of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) on Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020 for another time after the infamous publications of 2006 and 2015 by the same magazine. Emmanuel Macron, the French president added salt to injury by taking further debilitating steps of branding Islam thus: “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world”. Again, he followed this by unveiling secular legislation plan to tackle what he called: “Islamic separatism”. These are efforts by Macron to suppress the religious freedom of Muslims population in France. After the provocative action by Charlie Hebdo, many government buildings projected the caricatures, claiming to have done it to affirm freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the country. Over 1.9 billion Muslims in the world are angered by these actions of Charlie Hebdo, Emmanuel Macron and the French Republic.
The controversial magazine Charlie Hebdo has a long history of publishing materials that create disquiet among various religious groups. In September, 2016, an Italian town Amatrice sued the magazine for publishing materials construed to be defamation after the town witnessed an earthquake that killed nearly 300 and destroyed three quarters of Amatrice. They were also under fire worldwide for their insensitivity in publishing a cartoon illustration of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi in January, 2016. The magazine is well known for its disdain for all religions, this led to their first publication of the caricatures in question in 2006 after being first published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten 0n 30th September, 2005. Charlie Hebdo reprinted the caricatures in 2015 and just recently in September, 2020.
Emmanuel Macron, the French Republic president claimed that the magazine did not go against the constitution of France on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. He went ahead to announce his government’s decision to strengthen the 1905 law that separates church from state. It was during this announcement that he made the infamous remark: “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world…”. He reiterated his commitment to end what he called: “Islamic separatism”. These actions of Macron are viewed as efforts of Macron and his government to target and suppress freedom of Muslims population in France and stigmatize them because of their religious belief. Many government buildings projected these caricatures in a deliberate effort of provocation hiding under the pretext of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It seems Macron is trying to use Muslims and Islam as scape-goats through ‘hardening’ his secular stance as 2022 presidential election is coming.
Muslims all over the world have reacted. Despite the diplomatic and political disapproval from various Muslim individuals and groups, serious boycott has begun to take shape as shopping malls in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries have boycotted French products. Major companies in these countries decided to boycott French products and promised to find an alternative. Peaceful protests have also taken place in Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Libya, Palestine (Gaza), parts of Syria, Morocco and Lebanon. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, protests were undertaken calling for boycott of French products. France has already reacted to these developments appealing that the boycott calls are unjustified and are being “pushed by a radical minority”. Muslim leaders such as Imran Khan, Pakistani Prime Minister have slammed Macron and wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook asking him to ban Islamophobia just as Facebook has banned questioning or criticizing the holocaust. This was followed by an official statement by Shah Mahmoud Qureshi who lamented that Macron actions “will polarize the society and have serious consequences!” Likewise, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif and Turkish President Erdogan condemned the Macron’s actions and the latter advocated: ‘Macron needed a mental health check for speaking out so forcefully on Islam’.
We, the Muslim Community of Katsina State wish to state our stand on this issue as follows:
We wish to categorically warn Charlie Hebdo magazine and any other media entity as individuals or organizations to desist from any further blasphemous action against the religion of Islam in the name of freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Such type of action shall constitute an unjustifiable, offensive and unacceptable abuse of freedom of expression that undermine peaceful co-existence and interfaith coherence.
Emmanuel Macron should understand that this angst generated from his deliberate provocation against Islam for ulterior motives has angered majority of the Muslims in the world and not ‘a radical minority’ as he may wish to believe. We strongly call your attention to mend your ways and behave like a president of a country. We watch and follow carefully on actions and inactions regarding the safety and wellbeing of Muslims in France. If you believe freedom of speech is absolute in France why would you consider Turkish president’s remarks as unacceptable and call for sanction against Turkey?
We call on Muslims all over the world to show their diplomatic and political disapproval of Charlie Hebdo’s, Macron’s and France’s deliberate provocation against Islam and also boycott made in France products and find alternatives until Macron and France toe the line of honour and concern for an interfaith peaceful co-existence.
We call on the Muslims all over the world not to take law into their hands at the times of provocations, rather, authorities should be allowed to deal with the situations as they arise.
We call on Federal and State governments of Nigeria to watch keenly and take proactive measures of protecting the honour and dignity of Islam against unrestricted and irresponsible abuse of freedom of speech that some unscrupulous elements in the society use to incite Muslims in the country.
Convener: National Islamic Centre (Muslim Ummah) Katsina State Branch