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Boycott radicalism or boycott France? You decide

Updated October 27, 2020 23:30 IST
Emmanuel Macron French President Boycott
French President Emmanuel Macron (Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua/IANS)

Hassen Chalghoumi has long stood out against radicalized Islamists who have brought “shame on humanity” and spread hate and murder. As president of the Conference of Imams of France, Chalghoumi told parents to “wake up” after the murder of Samuel Paty — a French teacher who was beheaded outside the Paris school where he taught by an Islamist radical Abdullakh Anzorov in broad daylight on October 20.

“We are all Samuel Paty. He is a martyr of freedom. His assassin is a criminal terrorist who has nothing to do with faith and humanity. He was manipulated by videos and individuals who are also controlled by hatred. I congratulate and stand by the Minister of the Interior. It was a fatwa, yes! Our authorities and legal system need to understand that a fatwa is not just a murder threat or a call to murder. It is also a discourse of hatred, the discourse of the Islamist propaganda,” said Imam Chalghoumi while strongly denouncing Paty’s barbaric murder.

He further went on to say that Islamism is a “disease”, a “poison”, and the French government should ban Islamism to protect France and its Muslims from a civil war.

“I hear the French Council of Muslim Faith saying that the word ‘Islamists’ must not be used. No. That’s not true. We should call a spade a spade. There is such a thing as Islamism: It is the poison of Islam, the disease of Islam. They are the disease of Islam and they must be fought against. Some Muslim countries fight Islamism. Political Islam is banned in some Muslim countries—in Abu Dhabi, in Bahrain, in Egypt, and in many countries. Why don’t we ban Islamism? How much longer? 130 of our youth have been killed so far. How much longer? Dozens of policemen have been killed. How much longer? Dozens of journalists. How much longer? When will society wake up?” questioned the head of the organization that represents Imams in France.

Turkey Erdogan France Macron
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a symposium in Istanbul (Xinhua/IANS)

This was one week ago when Imam Chalghoumi spoke to the reporters after visiting a local police station to complain about receiving several death threats daily. A lot has changed since then.

Now, French President Emmanuel Macron is being accused of ‘fuelling extremism’ for the comments he made while offering his tribute to Paty. “He was killed because the Islamists want our future. They know that with quiet heroes like him, they will never have it,” Macron said Wednesday.

Leading the ‘boycott France’ and ‘boycott French products’ campaign is Turkey, a country which was already looking for an opportunity to target France. Macron has sided with Greece in halting Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s expansionist moves in the eastern Mediterranean which has threatened regional stability.

French flags are being put on fire not just in Ankara but also in Syria and Libya, both part of Erdogan’s ‘mini empire’ in the volatile region. Last week, Erdogan even questioned the mental state of Macron, making comments which have been labeled “unacceptable” by many European Union members.

“What else can one say about a head of state who treats millions of members from different faith groups this way: first of all, have a mental check. Macron needs mental treatment,” said Erdogan who himself was not too long ago referred to as “the sick man of Europe” by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and “a madman” by Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.

Germany called Erdogan’s comments “defamatory” while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said they are “unacceptable” and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte labeled them as “personal insults.”

“Erdogan’s words are unacceptable. I call on Turkey to stop this dangerous spiral of confrontation. The conclusions of the European Council contain a real offer to relaunch our relationship, but the political will of the Turkish authorities is needed on this positive agenda. Otherwise, Turkey will be even more isolated,” said EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

Not quite surprisingly, one man standing in support of Erdogan is Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. The leader of a country which has remained on the grey list of the global terror-financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) since 2018 and where jihadism thrives is telling the world that France is fueling extremism!

“The last thing the world wants or needs is further polarization. Public statements based on ignorance will create more hate, Islamophobia & space for extremists,” Khan said in a series of tweets accusing Macron of “creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization.”

All this (mis)adventurism against its allies and neighbors is already costing Turkey’s economy dear – the Turkish Lira slumped to a record low Tuesday. Pakistan, meanwhile, is also struggling badly to stave off an economic crisis. As reported by The Express Tribune today, “Pakistan’s economy for the first time in 68 years is projected to contract in the outgoing fiscal year with a negative growth rate of 0.38 percent, and the GDP is set to contract by 4 per cent.”

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