The past few weeks since Emmanuel Macron’s announcement to fight Islamist separatism have been marred by an open boycott of French products, cyber attacks, dipomatic conflicts and direct threats. As diplomatic tensions escalate, Marine Le Pen thinks that France would need tougher laws.
Tensions have escalated into a heavy conflict once again between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emmanuel Macron after the French president delivered a speech on the fight against Islamist separatism and his proposed draft legislation, which is expected to go before parliament in December.
The Turkish president suggested, in a rather straightforward manner, that his French counterpart needed a mental health check and some sort of mental treatment. Following Erdogan’s unflattering remark, Macron recalled France’s ambassador to Turkey, a strong indication of the diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Following the diplomatic spat, several Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait, have condemned the publication of the Muhammad cartoons and the projection of Charlie Hebdo’s cover pages onto the walls of municipal buildings.
A social media campaign launched in some Middle Eastern countries aims to boycott the purchase of French products. A range of stores have stopped selling French goods and removed French cheese, pasta, and jam from their shelves.
President Macron took to Twitter to respond to the powerful anti-French campaign and shared several posts on the issue, saying France guarantees equality and will never back down.
Besides the boycott of French products there were several demonstrations, for instance, in Israel, where some 200 people staged a protest outside the French embassy. Morocco and Pakistan have conpletely rejected the idea that caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad could be displayed, and protesters in the Gaza Strip have set banners portraying Emmanuel Macron ablaze.
Hamas has raised its voice for the protection of the Prophet and Islam, arguing that insulting their religion and the Prophet is not part of the free speech concept, but rather a way to incite hatred. Islamic Jihad, a radical Islamist armed group, believes that insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad is crossing a red line, which cannot be tolerated.
According to Moroccan Prime Minister Sad-Eddini el-Otman, free expression must under no circumstances offend the supporters of a religion with more than two billion adherents worldwide. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement calling for peaceful coexistence and a dialogue to clarify the situation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Han also condemned Emmanuel Macron’s move. By attacking Islam, President Macron has only strengthened Islamophobia and deliberately provoked Muslims, including citizens of his own country, he said.
National Rally’s Marine Le Pen, the president of France’s largest opposition party, has also reacted to the events. She underlined that Islamist ideology should be viewed as the enemy of France. According to the politician, the spreading of Islamism on French soil is partly the French left’s responsibility, so now it’s up to them to unite with Republicans against the totalitarian ideology represented by Islamism.
With a view to curbing Islamism, Marine Le Pen has called for stricter legislation, such as handing out actual life sentences to terrorists.
The events have sent shockwaves and not just among politicians, as French websites has witnessed a series of cyberattacks in recent days, with hundreds of Islamist posts containing threatening messages. The threats have been highlighted by cybermalveillance.gouv.fr, the French government’s official cybersecurity website, which advised the operators of every “attacked” website to visit the government portal and follow the detailed description of what to do in such situations.
TF1, the French public national broadcaster, has also received threats on its website. The messages sent by Islamists threaten with beheadings and starting a war against France.