Macron on Islam: “How can I keep quiet”

APA-Nouakchott (Mauritania)

Mauritanian scholar and Muslim cleric, Mohamed, El Moktar Ould Bah reacts to recent statements by French President Emmanuel Macron on Islam and cartoons purportedly showing Prophet Mohammed.

It is not possible for me to be silent when my beloved Prophet is the subject of a controversy provoked by others. However, I will speak according to the precepts of the holy Quran, which enjoins me to engage the People of the Book in the most suitable manner. It is in this spirit that I will react to the recent words of the French president, although my indignation is deep.

It is obviously not for me to remind him of his role as guarantor of the best interests of his country. However, he should have weighed his support for the proliferation of particularly defamatory and intentionally insulting cartoons and the historical, cultural and economic relations with 50 countries and with nearly two billion Muslims, including several million of his own citizens, who feel offended and hurt about what they hold most dear and sacred.

President Emmanuel Macron’s attitude and words were both shocking and incomprehensible to many states and peoples, some of whom have adopted the language of France, admired its culture, its laws and its spirit. All are indignant and regret that such remarks have been made to the world by the President of France.

But even greater were their disappointment and their anger when the French leader, far from being remorseful, let alone apologetic, reiterated, on Al Jazeera news channel, his support for the dissemination of unworthy cartoons, arguing that he thus was defending freedom of expression.

No one asks him not to defend it. But this freedom can be framed as did the Gayssot law on anti-Semitism, or the laws on revisionism, or even the law that made it possible to close and dissolve Hara-Kiri, the forerunner to Charlie Hebdo, when it disrespectfully caricatured General de Gaulle, so loved and respected by the French people. 

Shouldn't this same logic apply to the Prophet, revered by nearly two billion people on the planet?

The president also argued that his words were misrepresented and taken out of context. He was given the opportunity on Al Jazeera to elaborate, to avoid any ambiguity. He didn't take it.

On the contrary, he gave the impression that he was speaking more to an Islamophobic electorate than to the Muslims he was supposed to appease.

Moreover, while acknowledging that more than 80 percent of victims of terrorism are Muslims, the president invariably associates it with Islam. 

Like any good Muslim, I strongly condemn terrorism and find it deeply unfair to blame those who are its main victims.

The president is aware, however, that the real causes of terrorism are among others, marginalization, exclusion and above all contempt for the culture and beliefs of others.

The words of the French president on Al Jazeera far from appeased Muslims. 

On the contrary, it has reinforced in them the conviction that he does not care what they think or feel. 

This attitude can have unfortunate consequences, which no sane person wants, for France and its relations with the entire Islamic world.

Wisdom and well-understood policy would dictate that the French president, anxious to best serve the interests of his country and to preserve the links of all kinds forged over the centuries with the Muslim world, take it upon himself, apologize to this great community and initiates laws, criminalizing this type of publication that does not serve democracy or secularism and which in no way enhances the reputation of France.


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