France can’t deny the responsibility of religious violence

Published : Tuesday, 3 November, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Recently, the whole world is talking about new attacks on Muslims and attacks by Muslims. This new story was originated in France when a teacher was killed by a Muslim student over showing hateful contents about Prophet Muhammad (Sm) at classroom. Then French President Emmanuel Macron invoked the rage of Muslims worldwide after he pledged to fight ‘Islamist separatism’ and defended the right to publish religious caricatures. The outcry over remarks about Islam by French President and cartoons of Prophet Muhammad has escalated. Muslim nations are protesting with calls to boycott French products and severe chaotic consequences seem to be unavoidable.

French President Macron has said that Islamists have created a parallel culture in France that rejects French values, customs and laws. He also said that Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world and that Muslim positions are hardening. Many Muslim countries have condemned Macron’s defence of the cartoons and called for a boycott of French goods. Turkey has led the charge with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Macron needs a mental health check and accusing him of running an anti-Islamic agenda. He also asked the world to boycott all French products.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has said it rejected offensive images of any of Islam’s prophets and any attempts to link Islam with terrorism. Traders in Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar have removed French goods from store shelves, while Qatar University has cancelled French culture week. There have also been protests held in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Bangladesh, the last of which attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators and included burning dummies of Macron.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said Macron was encouraging anti-Muslim sentiment and was deliberately provoking Muslims. He also summoned the French ambassador to lodge a protest. Egypt’s Al-Azhar University has denounced the cartoons, saying Macron’s comments were part of a systematic campaign to use Islam to win political battles. There was also condemnation from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Because of this speech of French President, already four people have died and another one was injured. All the attacks were conducted by the Muslim attackers and the whole world expressed anger and grief over the incidents as it is not the teaching of Islam. Islam is actually a religion of peace and ensures the rights, safety and security of the non-Muslims to the greatest extent.

The French president later said he believed strong reactions had come from Muslim nations because people had mistakenly thought that he supported the cartoons or even that they had been created by the French state. He also said a boycott of French goods proposed amid anger at the cartoons was unworthy and unacceptable.

It is not wise and acceptable that ill comments or contents should be targeted towards any religion. For example, though Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country, hurting religious sentiments is silently strictly prohibited in all forms and contexts. Then, it is not understandable why France keep repeating insult of the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) and Islam repeatedly keeping all other religions aside. Though Islam is the religion of complete peace which is depicted in lifestyle of the Prophet (Sm), you cannot really control the religious sentiments; let it be Islam or any other religion.

In 2020, the number of Muslims in France is estimated to be 5,760,999, approximately 8.8% of the total French population. It was around 7.5% in 2010, 1.0% in 1990 and estimated to be 10.3% in 2030. France now has the largest number of Muslims in the Western world. From the political trend, it will not be unwise to say that, Macron’s controversial remarks can be politically driven. Macron’s opponent in the next presidential election Marine Le Pen is known for her conventional position over other races and religions as was also depicted by her current reaction over the recent happenings. She called for banning immigration from countries like; Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Right now, Christianity and Islam are the two greatest religion of the world by population as 31.1% of the global population is Christian and 24.9% are Muslim. It is projected that, Muslims will be the highest in numbers by 2050. Currently, the growth rate of Muslims is the highest and that must have been a concern for the Western world. None can stop the greatest religious representative group by tagging them with terrorism or by attacking their religious sentiments. Rather the world leaders should create a platform of recognition and appreciation.

Over the whole western world, the Muslims are growing in numbers, which is obviously becoming a concern from the leaders of those countries. Le Pen is gaining popularity in France and Macron might have thought about matching her spirit. This might lead towards the wrong statements of Macron. But France’s stand on the current issue will create a lot of chaos for the whole world.

The western world has linked Muslims with extremism or terrorism continuously for which people hailing from this religion had to suffer gravely. This sort of attack on Prophet Muhammad (Sm) will influence rise of terrorist acts. We have already seen individual acts of terror. But new terrorist groups along with the old ones might find a cause to revitalize their operations.

Islam, its beliefs and practices received more threats, criticism and direct attacks than any other major religions of the world. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity or even Judaism did not have to pass through so many tests. Unfortunately, most of the people including the Muslims do not know about the actual teachings of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (Sm.) never said or did anything to hurt anyone. Violence to defend Islam was never a part of Islamic teaching.

We have seen millions of people protest against France and its president for insulting the Prophet and we also want this type of shameful acts to stop. But before protesting or taking any action, we need to instill Islam completely inside ourselves. While we are way apart from the instructions of Quran and Hadith, we are not eligible to protest. If we follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Sm.), we will never be able to get involved in violence.

Here, it is noteworthy that, France, along with its democratic practices, has been the flag-bearer of human rights. We could have hoped that, the attacker of the church incident would be arrested alive. But he was killed and we lost the chance to know the absolute truth. We hope in any such future cases, the criminal will be arrested alive – the French police should not kill someone as the criminals do.

France has a strong history of secularism, anti-racism and modern revolution. It has been welcoming to people from all religions and Muslims are also living there for long in peace and growth opportunity. The incidents that are occurring in France right now cannot be accepted from France at least. Current political incidents obviously have influenced the recent unfortunate events.

We hope France and its allies will refrain themselves from attacking any religion. Religious sentiments are often hard to control and not everyone follows the Islamic principles completely. So, such shameful acts will instigate violent acts despite all the efforts of the Muslim world. It is true for any religion. The world must appreciate the progress of the Muslims rather than politically victimizing them. Let’s just hope France and its allies do not initiate the third world war in the name of religion.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Vice-Chairman, Democracy
Research Centre (DRC)


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