Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is involved in “demagoguery” in the wake of French President Emmanuel Macron’s statements on freedom of expression and the dangers of radical Islamism following terrorist attacks in France, says lecturer Olivier Guillard.
In an opinion piece in Asialyst, a French online newspaper specialising in news from Asia, Guillard said Islamist anger against France has hit predominantly Muslim Asian countries, in particular, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“Openly threatening against the French president, the demonstrators preach the boycott of French products and call on the local authorities to condemn their counterparts in Paris without further ado. Some leaders like Prime Minister Imran Khan are riding the wave, not without demagoguery,” he writes.
Macron has been facing criticism from various Muslim-majority countries after he took a tough stand on radical Islam and defended cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. The French president said Islam was a religion in crisis.
Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.
The main opposition comes from Pakistan and other Muslim countries where people hit the streets.
On October 30, Islamabad had seen a procession of several thousand radical activists converging on the French embassy.
In Lahore, two cities in Pakistan, 10,000 supporters of the radical Islamic party Tehreek-e-Labbaik took to the streets chanting slogans and carrying banners with once again unambiguous content. In Multan, a portrait of the French president was burned in the public square by a fevered Zealot crowd.
At each of these demonstrations of anger against France, the local security forces were deployed in large numbers to prevent material destruction and assaults on diplomatic or consular buildings, and ensure the safety of personnel.
Macron’s remarks did not go well with Pakistan Prime Minister Khan who slammed the French President, saying that he has “chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims”.
Taking to Twitter, Khan said, “Hallmark of a leader is he unites human beings, as Mandela did, rather than dividing them. This is a time when President Macron could have put healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalisation.”
“By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world.”
The Pakistan leader had in a bizarre letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought a ban on Islamophobic content similar to the prohibition put for the Holocaust on the social networking site.
In the letter that he shared on Twitter, Khan said “growing Islamophobia” is encouraging extremism and violence “across the world” – especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.
Pakistan also summoned the French ambassador for lodging a “strong protest” against the publication of “blasphemous” sketches and recent comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron, Dawn reported.
In a statement, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said ambassador Marc Barety was handed over a dossier by the special secretary (Europe), Dawn had reported.
The ambassador was told about Pakistan’s condemnation of the publication of blasphemous sketches and the comments later made by Macron, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan National Assembly unanimously had passed a resolution condemning the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France and the “resurgence of Islamophobic acts” in some countries after a noisy session that witnessed the government and opposition delivering fiery speeches against each other.