French officials have warned citizens living or travelling abroad to exercise caution following a rise in anger over Prophet Mohammad cartoons and the murder of a school teacher by an Islamic extremist.
The French Foreign Ministry issued new travel advice on Tuesday for citizens in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq and Mauritania, as Muslim countries accused leaders in France of “Islamophobia” and demand people boycott French goods.
The guidance urges French citizens to “exercise the greatest vigilance”, especially in “places that are frequented by tourists or expatriate communities”, as well as staying away from protests and public gatherings over fears of potential reprisals.
France has stood by its right to publish the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, which Muslims consider blasphemous, after a Chechen Islamist extremist beheaded Samuel Paty, a school teacher, for showing them during a lesson about free speech. President Emmanuel Macron later refused to “renounce the caricatures”.
Iran, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey, among other countries, have roundly condemned the publication of the cartoons, originally released by the Charlie Hebdo magazine 5 years ago, sparking the deadly 2015 terrorist attack on the publication. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has warned that the actions of individuals within the country could “risk submerging French-Muslim relations”.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is surprised by the official political discourse of some French officials, which hurts French-Islamic relations. #Francepic.twitter.com/7w7G9TIapg
France hit back at foreign criticism by declaring that the country’s actions are not Islamophobic but are actually a defence of “freedom of expression” and “freedom of religion” and that their politicians will act within their power to condemn “any call to hatred”.
Earlier this month, prior to Paty’s murder and following growing concern about “radical Islamism” in France, Macron announced legislation to strengthen the law that separates church from state, strongly stating that there will be “no concessions” in any move to split religion and education and “defend the republic”. The legislation would place mosques under greater state control and force imams to be trained and certified in France to “liberate French Islam from foreign influence”. The legislation is expected to be presented to parliament in December.
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