Mass rally in Yemen's Taiz over Macron's anti-Islam remarks

Mass rally in Yemen's Taiz over Macron's 'reckless' anti-Islam remarks
3 min read
01 November, 2020
Thousands of protesters gathered in Taiz in support of Islam and its Prophet Muhammad on Saturday, amid rising tensions between Muslims and France.
Thousands called for a boycott of French goods [Getty]
Yemenis in the third largest city took to the streets on Saturday to denounce recent provocations by France against Islam and its Prophet Muhammad.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Taiz to reject the statement of French President Emmanuel Macron, which have in recent weeks triggered global outrage among the Muslim community, amid an ongoing debate about cartoons.

The protesters urged for an immediate boycott of French goods, echoing similar calls made around Muslim-majority countries around the world.

"These remarks cannot be issued by a sane mind or leader because they incite hate speech," a statement by the protesters said.

"The comments are an assault on the feelings and beliefs of entire peoples, including a large part of his countrymen," the statement added.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the foolish statement of President Macron against Islam and the insulting cartoons of the noble prophet," it added.

The statement also condemned recent "unfortunate attacks on any human beings" that were reported amid the ongoing rise in tensions.

Similar protests have sprouted across the war-torn country, including the southern temporary capital city Aden and the rebel-held capital Sanaa.

The Yemeni Scholars Association in a statement condemned Macron’s remarks as "provocative and reckless behaviour against Islam and Muslim" and called for Muslims to stand in support of their religion and prophet by boycotting French goods and products.

In recent weeks, Macron has been at the centre of controversy in a revived debate about freedom of expression, Islam and France's treatment of its Muslim minority groups.

The French president recently defended re-published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, sparking a backlash from Muslims around the world.

He has also been accused of persecuting Muslims in France, with French authorities currently cracking down on Muslim NGOs under a new 'separatism' law that has been criticised as curtailing civil liberties.

The issue of religious extremism has come to the fore following the October 16 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty by a suspected Islamist radical from Russia's region of Chechnya.

Read more: Calls for France boycott gain momentum as Qatar supermarkets shun French produce

The teacher had shown a class a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in the wake of the controversy generated by the reprinting by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo of the caricatures to mark the beginning of the trial of suspects over the massacre of its staff in January 2015.

Even before that attack, Macron had promised a tough new campaign against Islamist radicalism which had aroused controversy and condemnation from Muslims around the world.

Protests erupted on Friday in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Mauritania and Lebanon, the latest in a string of mass rallies denouncing France.

World leaders have also weighed in on the matter, with Macron and Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan trading barbs and insults in recent days.

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