Tensions in France over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad – between offended Muslims and President Emmanuel Macron’s defending government of freedom of expression – have spilled over to Asia, which is also home to a large Muslim population.
Here are the latest developments:
Friday, Oct 30 (Tokyo time)
03:00 “This Tweet violates the Twitter Rules.” A short notice from the US social media giant announced the deletion of a tweet by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who previously wrote that “Muslims have the right to anger and kill millions of French people for massacres in the past.”
Under Twitter policy, “When we determine that a Tweet violates the Twitter Rules, we ask the violator to delete it before they can Tweet again. We send the violator an email notification that identifies the violating Tweet and which policy has been violated.”
Thursday, October 29th
11:00 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron said: “Once again our country was hit by an attack, an Islamic terrorist attack,” as he visited the site of a church killing in Nice. “We all want to support Catholics in France and elsewhere,” said Macron. “Once again Catholics are being attacked,” he said.
10:45 p.m. A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a security guard with “sharp tools” at the French consulate, local police said. A statement from the Makkah regional police said the guard had suffered “minor injuries” and that the “perpetrator” was in “legal action”.
The French embassy said the consulate had been subjected to “a knife attack targeting a guard,” that the guard had been hospitalized and that his life was not in danger. “The French embassy strongly condemns attacks on diplomatic outposts which no one can justify,” he said in a statement.
10:34 p.m. Saudi Arabia “strongly condemns” the attack in Nice, the Muslim kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The Kingdom firmly rejects such extremist acts, which are against all religions … while stressing the importance of avoiding all practices that give rise to hatred, violence and extremism,” said a statement published by the state news agency SPA.
6:00 p.m. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Indonesians to focus on the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China, describing it as the “most severe threat” to the future of religious freedom in a speech to Islamic groups.
“There is no counterterrorism justification for forcing Uighur Muslims to eat pork during Ramadan or destroying Muslim cemeteries,” Pompeo said. “There is no poverty alleviation justification for forced sterilization or keeping children away from their parents to be re-educated in government-run boarding schools.”
“I know that the Chinese Communist Party has tried to convince Indonesians to turn away, to turn away from the torments suffered by fellow Muslims,” he said. “I know that these same CCP officials have made up fantastic stories about happy Uighurs who want to throw away their ethnic, religious and cultural identities to become more ‘modern’ and enjoy the benefits of CCP-led developments. When you hear this argument, I will just ask you to do this: search your heart. Look at the facts. Listen to the stories of survivors and their families. “
“My scriptures taught me that faith without works is dead,” said Pompeo.
“I believe you know the ways in which the Islamic tradition – and the Indonesian tradition – demands that we have a voice and work for justice,” he said.
5:00 p.m. An assailant armed with a knife shouted “Allahu Akbar [God is the greatest]! “beheaded a woman and killed two others at a church in the French city of Nice. The attacker is believed to be a 21-year-old Tunisian national who had recently entered from Italy.
3:12 am Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Western countries that scoff at Islam want to “relaunch the Crusades”, escalating confrontation with France over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have sparked outrage in Muslim-majority countries. In a speech to lawmakers of his AK Party in parliament, Erdogan called for a stance against the prophet’s attack “a matter of honor for us,” suggesting that Ankara may be digging for a prolonged stalemate.
Wednesday, October 28th
11:05 am Malaysia “strongly condemns the inflammatory rhetoric and provocative actions that seek to defame the religion of Islam as the world has witnessed recently in the form of populist speeches and the publication of blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad,” said a statement from the Foreign Ministry. Affairs as a French envoy was summoned to the ministry.
Tuesday, October 27th
3:06 am Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution urging the government to summon its envoy from Paris over the republication of an image of the Prophet Muhammad in France, accusing President Emmanuel Macron of “committing hatred” against Muslims. The non-binding National Assembly resolution came hours after the French ambassador in Islamabad was summoned to the foreign office for Pakistan to register his protest. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also took aim at Macron, saying he had attacked Islam by encouraging cartoons depicting the prophet.
Wednesday, October 21
On the national anniversary of the murder of school teacher Samuel Paty, French President Emmanuel Macron said Paty “was the victim of a conspiracy of ignorance, hatred, lies … hatred of others … hatred for our deepest selves.”
Friday, October 16th
US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said China was committing “something close to” genocide with its treatment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
“If not genocide, something close to it [is] happens in Xinjiang, “he said at an online event organized by the Aspen Institute. The United Nations estimates that more than one million Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang.
O’Brien said US customs had confiscated “a large quantity” of hair products made with human hair from Xinjiang. “The Chinese actually shave the heads of Uighur women and make hair products and ship them to the United States,” he said.
School teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded on a street on the outskirts of Paris. Paty has shown her students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class about freedom of expression, angering some Muslim parents. Muslims believe that the depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Police shot dead the 18-year-old attacker from Chechnya.
Friday, October 2
French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech entitled “Against Separatism” in which he said that “Islam is a religion that is currently experiencing a worldwide crisis.”
Noting the need to free “Islam in France from foreign influence,” Macron announced that he would end exchange programs with Turkey, Morocco and Algeria to train imams.