Facing anger globally for alleged Islamophobia, French President Emmanuel Macron has made a desperate attempt to reach out to Muslims by giving an exclusive interview to Qatar-based Aljazeera TV to clarify his stand on Islam. In his interview, Macron said that he understood Muslim sentiments against cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), but urged Muslims to understand his position as the president of France.
“I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. But you must understand my role right now, it’s to do with two things: to promote calm and also to protect these rights,” Macron was quoted as saying.
The French president also highlighted ‘distortions’ blaming his government for the creation of controversial cartoons. He said, “I think that the reactions came as a result of lies and distortions of my words because people understood that I supported these cartoons.”
Macron’s comments defending France’s right to publish the Prophet’s cartoon and calling Islam a religion in ‘crisis’ had triggered global protests with people boycotting French products across the Muslim world. Turkish President Receb Teyyip Erdogan had officially urged his people to boycott French products as he accused Macron of being mentally unstable.
Macron said in the same interview, “Today in the world there are people who distort Islam and in the name of this religion that they claim to defend, they kill, they slaughter … today there is violence practised by some extremist movements and individuals in the name of Islam.”
He said that Muslims were the biggest victims of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam. He said, “Of course this is a problem for Islam because Muslims are the first victims,” he added. “More than 80 percent of the victims of terrorism are Muslims, and this is a problem for all of us.”
A controversy was triggered by the beheading of a French teacher in Paris after he showed controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet to his students.