France’s Free Speech Makes Arab Christians Squirm
In conflict over Muhammad cartoons, French evangelicals rally behind their president’s defense of secularism. But brethren in the Middle East are torn.
French authorities insist that “Islam is in crisis.”
And around the world, Muslims are protesting religious cartoons.
The French reaction has been firm.
“We will defend the freedom that you taught so well, and we will strongly proclaim the concept of laïcité [secularism],” President Emmanuel Macron said of Samuel Paty, the slain teacher who used the infamous Charlie Hebdo caricatures of Muhammad in a class discussion about freedom of expression.
“We will not disavow the cartoons, even if others recoil,” Macron added.
And the official reaction has been swift.
Meanwhile, a recent poll indicated 87 percent of the French believe that “secularism is in danger.” An additional 79 percent believe that “Islamism has declared war on the nation and the Republic.”
Muslim world leaders responded in outrage to Macron’s rhetoric.
Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan called for a boycott of French products. Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia, said Muslims have the right to “punish” the French, and “kill” them for their past atrocities.
Ahmad al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar, led the Abu Dhabi–based Muslim Council of Elders in a call to sue Charlie Hebdo. The crisis has renewed the Muslim cry for an international law to ban the defamation of Islamic symbols. Others would broaden it to ban defamation of religion in general.
CT spoke with eight Christian leaders …
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June 18, 2021