Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe has defended himself after he came under fire for “liking” Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Instagram post in which he was highly critical of French president Emmanuel Macron.

Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim, has issued several posts amid a row over religion and free speech after two terrorist attacks in France, including one in which he posted a picture of Macron with a boot print across his face. 

“May the Almighty disfigure the face of this scum and all his followers, who, under the slogan of freedom of speech, offend the feelings of more than one and a half billion Muslim believers. May the Almighty humiliate them in this life, and in the next. Allah is quick in calculation and you will see it,” wrote the UFC lightweight champion. 

In another post, the Russian said “may Allah unleash His punishment on everyone who encroaches on the honor of [the Prophet Muhammad].”

The footballer was reportedly one of several French players to “like” the latter message, along with Karim Benzema, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ricardo Faty and Mamadou Sakho, as well as Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic and former Manchester United and Real Madrid star David Beckham.

Ce poste de Khabib (traduit)est liké entre autres par 5 joueurs qui joue (Kimpembe) ou ont joué (Benzema, Sakho, Bakayoko, Faty) en Equipe de France; Pjanic, joueur bosniaque formé en France & qui a joué 5 ans en L1; Atal, joueur de Nice qui n’a pas réagi à l’attentat à l’église.

Kimpembe, who has been criticized for doing so, issued a tweet on Saturday in which he said he did not want to be drawn into politics and suggested there may also have been a linguistic misunderstanding.

“I play sports, not politics,” he said. “I don’t speak Russian either. I strongly condemn terrorism, all forms of violence without reservation, and all nauseating attempts at manipulation.”

Je fais du sport, pas de la politique. Je ne parle pas russe non plus. Je condamne fermement le terrorisme, toutes formes de violence sans aucune réserve, et toutes les tentatives de manipulation nauséabondes 🤮.

Nurmagomedov hit out at Macron after he defended the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad – something strictly forbidden in Islamic tradition – in the wake of the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in Paris earlier in October.

Paty had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students during a class on freedom of speech.

On Thursday, three people were killed in a stabbing spree in Nice which Macron – who has raised the country’s terror alert to ‘maximum’ – described as an ‘Islamist terrorist attack.’

In September, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that caused them to be targeted in a terrorist attack in 2015 that left 12 people dead.

Kimpembe, 25, came through the youth ranks at PSG and has since made 149 appearances for the club, winning four Ligue 1 titles, Coupes de France and Coupes de la Ligue apiece.

The center-back has 11 appearances for the French national team, one of which came during their successful 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia.