Macron stirs controversy again with defense of French secularism
French President Emmanuel Macron has stirred controversy again, even beyond the Muslim world, by his staunch defense of the French model for secularism and integration of minorities following his Ialamophobic remarks that have outraged Muslims.
Macron sparked widespread anger among the Muslim population of nearly two billion people, after he publicly attacked Islam in defense of the publication of derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The approach of Macron to the integration of France’s Muslim community, Europe's largest, and his insulting rhetoric towards Islam have been condemned not just in angry protests in Muslim countries, but by US and UK newspapers and even by Paris’s allies.
"Is France fueling Muslim terrorism by trying to prevent it?" read the headline in a recent column in the New York Times. The Washington Post newspaper advised him to fight racism rather than try to "reform Islam".
The Financial Times, a British newspaper usually enthusiastic in its support for Macron, published a piece by a correspondent entitled "Macron's war on 'Islamic separatism' only divides France further".
Analysts say Macron’s stance and the response has highlighted how the French policy to the integration of immigrants contrasts to that of some other Western countries that allow them to retain a separate identity.
"The French model is based on assimilation, although in practice it doesn't always work so well," Francois Heisbourg, special adviser at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research, told AFP.
"There is just one France, not a group of Muslims, a group of Sikhs and so forth, like in Canada," he added.
Following the killing of a teacher outside his school in a Paris, Macron defended France's strict brand of secularism and its long tradition of satire. "We will not give up cartoons," he vowed.
Samuel Paty had raised controversy by showing defamatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to his students and was murdered by an 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov. The assailant was subsequently shot dead by police.
In October, Macron made controversial remarks about “Islamist separatism,” which according to him threatens to take control in some Muslim communities around France.
Macron also described Islam as being "in crisis".
Raja Ben Slama, a Tunisian professor of humanities and Arab civilizations, told AFP that the French "must respect others' particularities and stop stigmatizing veiled women, for example."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with whom Macron enjoys close ties, disapproved the cartoons, warning that "freedom of expression is not unlimited" and urging everyone to "be aware of the impact of our words and actions on others."