European Islamic institutions send bold 'open letter to President Macron'

European Islamic institutions send bold 'open letter to President Macron'
'An Open Letter to President Macron' was put together by 28 Islamic institutions and associations around Europe.
4 min read
02 November, 2020
Macron has been in hot water in recent weeks over anti-Islam remarks [Getty]
European Islamic entities called on French President Emmanuel Macron to reconsider his offensive rhetoric on Muslims, in a letter sent to the leader on Tuesday.

Muslim organisations and institutions across the continent stood united in what they view as attacks by Macron and others on their religion and its Prophet Muhammad.

The French leader did not employ wisdom nor moral leadership in his response to recent events, which have seen increasing tensions and attacks across the world, the letter said.

"The horrific murder of M. Samuel Paty and the heinous attack on a place of worship in Nice drew condemnation and empathy from people all over the world. This is a moment in which French citizens looked up to you to provide strong moral leadership," the letter, which can be found online, said.

"Yet, unfortunately, there has been neither wisdom nor moral leadership in your response. Maligning Islam and your own Muslim citizens, closing mainstream mosques, Muslim and human rights organisations, and using this as an opportunity to stir up further hatred, has given further encouragement to racists and violent extremists. 

"Your own words and actions go against the principle of laïcité, as well as the French Constitution of 1958, which states that 'all citizens regardless of their origin, race or religion are treated as equals before the law and respecting all religious beliefs [or lack thereof]'," it added.

The document went on to slamming Macron's opportunistic behaviour, which was a violation of French law.

Macron used "state mechanisms and the security services of the French State to spread unfounded defamatory accusations, raid civic organisations, close mosques and shut down legitimate organisations is symptomatic of the underlying malaise in France’s political institutions and goes against the fundamental principles of Egalité, Liberté and Fraternité", the institutions said in the letter.

The bold address to the French leader denounced Macron's criminalising of work done to fight Islamophobia, which it said would "set a dangerous precedent to cherry pick which religious and racialised groups to protect, and which ones to dehumanise and rob of their freedoms".

"All of us in Europe know very well the horrendous consequences at mass scale that can lead from such actions targeting a religious minority," it added.

"The hand of friendship from European organisations, especially of youth and student movements, has long been extended. It would be a service to France and to its cherished principles, and to the rest of the world, if you took it," it concluded.

A total of 28 signatories were involved in the project dubbed 'An Open Letter to President Macron'.

Among the institutions involved are African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe (ADYFE), Muslim Association of Britain Youth (MABY), Etudiants Musulmans de France (EMF) and S.P.E.A.K (Muslim Women’s Collective) The Netherlands.

In recent weeks, Macron has been at the centre of controversy in a revived debate about freedom of expression, Islam and France's treatment of its Muslim minority groups.

The French president recently defended the re-publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, sparking a backlash from Muslims around the world.

He has also been accused of persecuting Muslims in France, with French authorities currently cracking down on Muslim NGOs under a new 'separatism' law that has been criticised as curtailing civil liberties.

The issue of religious extremism has come to the fore as France reels from 16 October beheading of teacher Samuel Paty by a suspected Islamist radical from Russia's region of Chechnya.

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The teacher had shown a class a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in the wake of the controversy generated by the reprinting by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo of the caricatures to mark the beginning of the trial of suspects over the massacre of its staff in January 2015.

Even before that attack, Macron had promised a tough new campaign against "Islamism" which had aroused controversy and condemnation from Muslims around the world.

Protests erupted on Friday in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Mauritania and Lebanon, the latest in a string of mass rallies denouncing France.

World leaders have also weighed in on the matter, with Macron and Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan trading barbs and insults in recent days.

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