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SOURCE: IANS

In the backdrop of protests in various Indian cities by some Muslims following recent Islamist attacks in France and French President Emmanuel Macron’s reaction, a group of 22 former Indian Ambassadors expressed solidarity with the country, saying “India stands with France at this difficult moment”.

The group in a statement also said that they fully support the government of France over its move against terrorist activities by radical Islamists.

The signatories of the group expressed their views in the wake of last month’s attack in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine where Samuel Paty, a middle school teacher who’d shown his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, was beheaded. He was thus transformed from an educator into a national symbol. Paty is the latest of more than 260 French killed in Islamist attacks since 2012.

“The recent brutal terrorist attacks in France by Islamic fundamentalists have implications for all democratic countries based on pluralism and rule of law,” the statement issued on Saturday mentions.

The statement said there is an international consensus reflected repeatedly in documents that no cause whatsoever justifies resort to terrorism.

“In this context demonstrations in India against France and President Macron are contrary to that international consensus, the government’s position and the excellent bilateral relations between India and France. India stands with France at this difficult moment and fully supports the Government of France on this issue.”

France, because of its history, is deeply wedded to freedom of expression, it said, adding France’s Muslim population has a very different perspective of the relationship between the state and religion as well as on freedom of expression.

“The moot point to consider is whether religious justice can be meted out unilaterally without due process by individual in a constitutional democracy in accordance with a belief system that has no place in local jurisprudence?

“India has rightly expressed solidarity with the French President personally and France as a country with which our ties have remarkably deepened strategically in recent years.

“India has been a victim of state-sponsored terrorism for decades and is especially sensitive to issues of terrorism. Under Prime Minister Modi, India has inscribed the issue of international terrorism as a threat to international peace and security, on the international and multilateral agenda,” it said.

“India stands by France in this fight against terrorism and fundamentalism. But a handful of Muslims have a different agenda in their minds because none of them protested against the brutal beheading.

Ajay Swarup, Ajit Kumar, Amar Sinha, Anil K. Trigunayat, Ashok Kumar, Bhaswati Mukherjee, J.S. Sapra, Kanwal Sibal, Laxmi Puri, Mohan Kumar, O.P. Gupta, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, Prakash Shah, Ruchi Ghanshyam, Satish Chand Mehta, Shashank, Shyamla B. Cowshik, Suresh Kumar Goel, Veena Sikri, Vidya Sagar Verma, Virender Gupta and Yogesh Gupta are the 22 retired ambassadors who supported France.