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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Imran Khan accuses Macron of 'attacking Islam'

Caricatures of Mohammed are forbidden by Islam (Getty)

Date of publication: 25 October, 2020

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Imran Khan accused French President Emmanuel Macron of "attacking Islam", after the European leader criticised Islamists and defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accused French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday of "attacking Islam", after the European leader criticised Islamists and defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Khan's comments follow statements Macron made last week after a French teacher was beheaded near Paris after he had shown cartoons of the Prophet during a class he was leading on free speech.

Macron said the teacher "was killed because Islamists want our future."

In a series of tweets, Khan said the remark would sow division.

Read more: Erdogan tells Macron to undergo 'mental checks' over his policies towards Muslims

"This is a time when President Macron could have put healing touch & denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation & marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalisation," Khan wrote.

"It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists."

Macron already sparked controversy earlier this month when he said "Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world".

The French teacher became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material - the same images that sparked a bloody assault by Islamist gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the original publisher, in January 2015.

Caricatures of Mohammed are forbidden by Islam.

Blasphemy is an explosive issue in ultra-conservative Pakistan, where anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures can face the death penalty.

"By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked & hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world," Khan said.

In an address to the United Nations last month, Khan, a populist leader who has been known to play to Pakistan's hardline religious base, blasted Charlie Hebdo for re-publishing the cartoons, saying "wilful provocations" should be "universally outlawed".

Khan's office late Sunday said he had written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the social media giant to take down Islamophobic content.

Facebook last week said it would ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.

"Given the rampant abuse and vilification of Muslims on social media platforms, 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 wrote.

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