28 October 2020   Leave a comment

French President Macron infuriated many Muslims by asserting that Islam is a religion in “crisis” after French teacher Samuel Paty was killed on 16 October after showing his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class exercise on freedom of speech. As reported by Al Jazeera:

“Top officials in the Muslim world have condemned France and Macron, including Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Iran; while tens of thousands have attended protests and called for a boycott of French goods.

“Tensions heated further on Wednesday after the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a new caricature depicting Erdogan. In response the Turkish president has threatened to sue the magazine.”

The tensions are rooted in a decision by the French periodical Charlie Hebdo to print caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2015, a decision that resulted in widespread protests in France that left over 260 people dead. Those who are alleged to have murdered 17 people after the publication of the cartoons are currently on trial in France, the occasion which led to Paty’s class exercise. The BBC reports:

“Fourteen people are on trial in France over the deadly attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015.

“Most of the alleged accomplices are in court in Paris, but three are being tried in absentia.

“They are accused of helping the militant Islamist attackers who shot dead 12 people in and around Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office in January 2015.

“In a related attack, a third gunman shot dead a policewoman, then attacked a Jewish store, killing four people.

“The 17 victims were killed over a period of three days. All three attackers were killed by police. The killings marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks across France that left more than 250 people dead.”

France has had a rather strict policy of secularism, or laïcité, in its governmental affairs since the French Revolution when the Catholic Church was held to have been too intrusive in French life. Macron reiterated that policy in a recent speech earlier this month. In that speech, President Macron was critical of some members of the Muslim community:

“Mr Macron said ‘Islamist separatism’ was a danger to France because it held its own laws above all others and ‘often results in the creation of a counter-society’.

“He said this form of sectarianism often translated into children being kept out of school, and the use of sporting, cultural and other community activities as a ‘pretext to teach principles that do not conform to the laws of the republic’.

“‘Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country.’

“The measures announced by the president will form legislation that will go to parliament before the end of the year.

“They include:

stricter monitoring of sports organisations and other associations so that they do not become a front for Islamist teaching

an end to the system of imams being sent to France from abroad

improved oversight of the financing of mosques

home-schooling restricted

“Mr Macron also said France must do more to offer economic and social mobility to immigrant communities, adding that radicals had often filled the vacuum.”

It is very difficult for a liberal society to enact laws against blasphemy. Indeed, liberal societies could not have been created without the decision to try and create conditions which would reduce the likelihood of religious conflict by essentially excluding religion from political debate.

Posted October 28, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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