© Inho Shin
Lately, there has been escalating tension in France, particularly President Macron, and Muslims. While President Macron strongly believes that Islamic extremism is a threat to the laws, way of life, and values of France, Islamic groups protest that they are being violated their rights and are not being treated equally.
This is not the first time there has been tension in France over Islam. In 2015, there was a shooting by two outraged Muslim terrorists at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France because of the way the Prophet Muhammad was depicted in cartoons. In October 2020, a Muslim student beheaded a French teacher, Samuel Paty, for showing some of the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons, heating up controversy between these two groups again.
President Macron had said that he would not tolerate any more brutality caused by Muslims. He stated organizations that violate anti-indoctrination regulations would be closed down, and that employees in places providing public services would be prohibited from wearing religious symbols. In addition, the French president remarked that homeschooling would only be allowed for students with health issues in order to prevent religious indoctrination of Islamic extremism.
The most problematic statement made by the president was that the French should be and would be given the rights to depict Prophet Muhammad in cartoons and drawings. President Macron specifically asserted that France "would not give up cartoons." He, along with many other French citizens, believes that cartoons are indeed an important part of the freedom of speech and expression. On the other hand, Islamic groups strongly argue that depictions of Prophet Muhammad are severely offensive to all Muslims and that the French are intentionally ignoring and disrespecting this aspect.
As a result, Muslims in various Islamic countries including Pakistan, Lebanon, and so on, have been burning images of the French President as well as the French flag in anti-France protests and marches. Furthermore, several Islamic countries are demanding boycotts of French products. As of right now, it seems that it would take a reasonable amount of time for tensions between France and Islamic countries to de-escalate.